Shell has previously been producing hydrogen from water vapor and natural gas using the method of steam reforming . Together with partner firms, the company is now planning the industrial-scale construction of a facility for the electrolysis of polymer electrolyte membranes . The advantage of this procedure is that it is CO₂-free and uses no chemicals. In return, Shell intends to use low-cost forms of renewable energy and hopes to receive EU funding for this.
The company has its eye on Wesseling in North Rhine-Westphalia, where part of Shell’s Rheinland refinery is currently located, as a suitable site for this facility. Several large chemical industry plants are also located in the metropolitan area. In the refinery, Shell currently uses roughly 180,000 tons of hydrogen per year to refine crude oil. In future, electrolysis will be used to cover at least part of this requirement. The planned facility would have a capacity of roughly 10 MW. Within the context of the project, the oil giant also points out the growing importance of hydrogen as an energy store.