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thyssenkrupp and E.ON to supply hydrogen to the electricity market

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Energy Global,

thyssenkrupp has reached a further milestone in the reliable use of renewables: Its proprietary water electrolysis technology for the production of green hydrogen meets the requirements for participation in the primary control reserve market. In the future thyssenkrupp’s electrolysis plants will be able to act as large-scale buffers to stabilise the power grid and compensate fluctuations quickly and flexibly. Operators can now link their plants to the German electricity market via E.ON’s virtual power plant.

thyssenkrupp and E.ON conducted the necessary tests jointly in an existing water electrolysis plant operating as part of the Carbon2Chem® project in Duisburg. It was shown that thyssenkrupp’s electrolysers can increase and decrease their production at the speed required to participate in the premium primary reserve market. Prerequisites include being able to provide full supply within a maximum of 30 sec. and maintain it for at least 15 min.

In order to bring the fluctuating availability of electricity from renewable sources into line with electricity demand, solutions are needed for the storage and subsequent use of surplus energy. Water electrolysis produces green hydrogen that can be stored for hours, days or months, converted back into electricity or used as a clean, CO2-free starting material in the mobility sector or for the production of sustainable chemicals.

Another central requirement is the need to stabilise the power grid against short-term fluctuations. As a two-in-one solution, thyssenkrupp’s industrial-scale water electrolysis process meets both criteria, allowing operators maximum flexibility and cost-efficiency: Hydrogen production is ramped up within seconds when surplus energy needs to be used and scaled back when output is low. Plant operators can market their willingness to adapt flexibly to general electricity demand and thus generate additional revenues.

As part of the Carbon2Chem® project, thyssenkrupp’s alkaline water electrolysis unit is already successfully supplying hydrogen for the production of chemicals from steel mill waste gases. In 2018 methanol was produced from steel mill gases for the first time. In the following year the production of ammonia succeeded. By contrast with conventional production methods, this process does not require fossil fuels such as natural gas, thus reducing CO2 emissions in both steelmaking and chemical production. The technology can also be used in other industries such as cement production.

The starting point for all sustainable value chains and an integrated energy system across the electricity, heat, mobility and industry sectors is large-scale water electrolysis. The technology is based on decades of experience gained by thyssenkrupp in chlor-alkali electrolysis. The patented design of the electrolysis cells allows system efficiencies of more than 80%. The electrolysis units are supplied as prefabricated 20 MW modules and can be combined easily into hydrogen plants with capacities in the multi-MW to GW range.

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