The European commission has awarded the H2FUTURE project consortium, consisting of voestalpine AG, Siemens, VERBUND and Austrian Power Grid (APG) as well as the research partners K1-MET and ECN, the contract for the construction of one of the world’s largest electrolysis plants for producing green hydrogen (H2).

The project-partners will work and research cooperatively on implementing an innovative H2 demonstration plant at the voestalpine site in Linz. The H2 generated there will be fed directly into the internal gas network, allowing the testing of the use of H2 in various process stages of steel production.

The technology supplier for the proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser is Siemens. VERBUND, the project coordinator, will provide electricity from renewable energy sources and is responsible for development of grid-relevant services.

Further partners in the project are the research institution ECN from the Netherlands, which is responsible for the scientific analysis of the demonstration operation and the transferability to other industrial sectors, and the Austrian transmission system operator APG, which will provide support in integrating the plant into the power reserve markets.

The Austrian COMET Competence Center K1-MET provides its expertise in the operation of the plant and demonstrates the potential applications in the European and global steel sector.

With H2FUTURE, key questions about sector coupling will be handled, such as evaluating potentials and possibilities for using green H2 in various process stages of steel production.

Wolfgang Eder, Chairman of voestalpine, commented, “We are working consistently on the further development of our processes towards the gradual de-carbonisation of steel production in order to be optimally positioned for the future challenges in terms of climate and environmental protection.”

Merger, acquisition, business deal

voestalpine is striving for the replacement of coal through the use of alternative energy sources in steel production over the next two decades by bridging technologies, primarily based on natural gas, like in the new reduction facility in Texas.

In addition, the transferability of this technology to other industrial sectors which use H2 in their production processes will be investigated. A further focus is integrating the responsive PEM electrolysis plant into the power reserve markets by developing demand-side management solutions, thus compensating for short-term fluctuations in the increasingly volatile power supply by means of load management for bulk consumers.

Wolfgang Hesoun, CEO of Siemens Austria, explains, “This CO2-heavy H2 can be replaced by H2 from electrolysis, greatly improving the emission balance resulting from industrial processes. Moreover, if the electrolysis is undertaken with electricity from renewable sources, the H2 production is virtually climate-neutral.”

Already today, VERBUND generates around 96% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, primarily hydropower. In addition to generating, transmitting, trading and marketing electricity, the company is increasingly focusing on the expansion of energy-related services for industrial and commercial clients, as well as for household customers.

VERBUND Chairman of the Board Wolfgang Anzengruber, concludes, “Green H2 in particular offers great potential for industrial use and also as a storage medium, to balance out the volatile electricity generation from new renewable energy sources and to ideally integrate them into the energy system.”

This project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and H2 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 735503. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Hydrogen Europe and N.ERGHY.