Gigawatt factory paves the way for a green hydrogen economy
A joint venture between Siemens Energy and Air Liquide wants to pave the way for a green hydrogen economy with the gigawatt factory for electrolysers that was recently officially opened in Berlin.8 Dec 2023
At the beginning of November, a new gigawatt factory for electrolysers from Siemens Energy and Air Liquide was officially opened in Berlin. In the presence of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Christian Bruch, CEO of Siemens Energy, and François Jackow, CEO of the French joint venture partner Air Liquide, gave the go-ahead for series production of hydrogen technology. The approximately 120 guests at the opening ceremony also included German Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck, French Minister of Industry Roland Lescure and other high-ranking representatives of German and French politics.
Affordable and scalable electrolysers as the basis for a green hydrogen economy
With the new production facility, Siemens Energy is producing electrolysers in series for the first time, creating a basis for the ramp-up of the green hydrogen economy. After all, if hydrogen is to pave the way for a climate-neutral future, it must be available in large quantities and at competitive prices. In future, series-produced, cost-effective and scalable electrolysers will be a key prerequisite for this. The annual production capacity will initially start at one gigawatt, but Siemens Energy and Air Liquide are planning at least three gigawatts of electrolysis capacity in 2025 - with potential for even more. For comparison: With an installed electrolysis capacity of three gigawatts, an average of 300,000 tons of green hydrogen can be produced per year when operated with renewable energies. If this green hydrogen is used as a substitute for fossil fuels, the CO2 emissions of a large German city like Aachen with around 260,000 inhabitants could be saved.
Turning the smallest molecule into a big success story
Christian Bruch, CEO Siemens Energy: "There can be no energy transition without green molecules. With today's opening and the start of production of electrolyzers on a gigawatt scale, we are taking the next step towards commercializing this important technology. Now we need to agree on a viable business model with a balanced risk and return profile to turn the smallest molecule into a big success story."
Location advantages to be utilized
The advantage of the Siemens Energy site in Berlin is that the entire infrastructure of an existing production facility and its experienced workforce can be used. New production lines for the manufacture of electrolysers were built on 2,000 square meters at a cost of around 30 million euros. The new factory will produce stacks - the core components of electrolysers - for a large number of customers and thus serve the rapidly growing market. These stacks are based on proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology, which is particularly suitable for operation with fluctuating renewable energies. Compared to other hydrogen technologies, PEM electrolysers enable gigawatt capacities to be brought to market with lower material, personnel and space requirements, making them the ideal pioneers for a rapid ramp-up. After production in Berlin, the stacks can be assembled into ready-to-use electrolysers at the Siemens Energy site in Mülheim an der Ruhr or with partners in the vicinity of the project sites.
First major projects about to start
The strategic Franco-German partnership will benefit from the expertise of both companies and a portfolio of hydrogen projects that combines the project pipelines of Air Liquide and Siemens Energy. A number of major projects for low-carbon and renewable hydrogen are already being developed in Europe: The Air Liquide Normand'Hy 200 MW electrolyzer project is being built near Port-Jérôme in France, which will avoid the emission of 250,000 tons of CO2 per year. The Normand'Hy project will also be one of the first to be supplied from Siemens Energy's new electrolyzer manufacturing facility as part of the joint venture between Air Liquide and Siemens Energy. Siemens Energy is already working on several other major electrolyzer projects, for example in Kassø, Denmark, and the FlagshipONE project in Sweden - two projects that will provide green hydrogen for the synthesis of e-fuels for shipping.
François Jackow, CEO of the Air Liquide Group: "The mass production of electrolyzers on an industrial scale is an essential prerequisite for making competitive renewable hydrogen a reality. Our joint venture with Siemens Energy brings together the best of our respective expertise and enables us to offer the right products to the market. This cutting-edge technology will soon be used in the Trailblazer electrolyzer in Oberhausen and a major expansion is already underway for the Normand'Hy electrolyzer project. More than ever, hydrogen is proving to be a key element in the transition to a low-carbon society.
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