Which came first? The car or the fuel? While the hype around cars based on fuel cell systems seems to go on and on, in reality, we're getting fed up with waiting for anything close to an adequate network of hydrogen filling stations. Without them, how can this supposed "other alternative" stand any chance of demonstrating its benefits and potential performance in everyday use? But things now finally seem to be moving in the right direction. Without anyone really noticing, 24 new public hydrogen filling stations sprang up around Germany during 2017, which practically doubled their number. With its new total of 45 filling stations, Germany's hydrogen fuel network is now only outranked by Japan. If everything goes according to plan, by 2019 the number should exceed 100, linked with a proportionate increase in demand for this fuel. The recent announcement that ITM Power is joining forces with Shell's base in the Rhineland to construct the world’s largest PEM hydrogen electrolysis plant fits right in with this trend.
At the heart of the project lies the HGas integrated technology platform that ITM Power is unveiling at HANNOVER MESSE 2018. "Decarbonizing hydrogen production in the chemical and refining industries worldwide is potentially a very large market. This pioneering project with Shell aims to demonstrate what can be achieved using our industrial-scale electrolyzers, which can also use low-cost renewable energy and help balance electricity grids," says Dr. Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power. The groundbreaking "Refhyne" plant is already due to go live in 2020, which will make it the first large-scale industrial application of polymer electrolyte membrane technology. Powered by low-cost electricity from renewable sources, it could become a key technology for potentially achieving entirely CO2-free hydrogen production.