Siemens to Build Huge Green Hydrogen Production Facility in Germany
Matthew Greenwood posted on October 07, 2020 |
Facility would use renewable energy fuel sources, making it a CO2-free power plant.
Wunsiedel Energy Park
Wunsiedel Energy Park
Siemens is continuing its push to become a world leader in green energy—this time by committing to build one of the largest CO2-free hydrogen production plants in Germany.

Siemens Smart Infrastructure is partnering with WUN H2 GmbH to build the facility in Wunsiedel, in northern Bavaria and close to the Czech border—and right next to Siemens’ manufactured battery storage facility. The plant will run entirely on renewable energy, primarily from solar and wind.

As for power capacity, the plant will have a power intake of six megawatts in the initial development phase. In its first phase of production the facility will be able to produce over 900 tons of hydrogen per year—and when its expansion is completed, that number will rise to a capacity of 2,000 tons annually. The groundbreaking. which will take place at the end of 2020, is expected to be online by the end of 2021.

“We want to achieve locally already today what Germany is targeting for 2050, namely a complete energy transition across all sectors,” said Uwe Bartmann, chief executive officer of Siemens Germany.

The plant will generate power via the use of electrolyzers that will extract hydrogen gas from water. The facility plant will use Siemens’ Silyzer 300 polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzer, which employs a specialized solid plastic as its electrolyte.

Siemens’ Silyzer electrolyser system. Source: Siemens.
Siemens’ Silyzer electrolyser system. Source: Siemens.
Electrolyzers usually consist of a cathode and an anode separated by an electrolyte. Electricity is used at the anode to split water into oxygen and positively charge hydrogen ions. The hydrogen ions move through the PEM membrane to the cathode; the membrane blocks gases such as hydrogen and oxygen from getting through and mixing. The electrons created at the anode are channeled through an external circuit, bypassing the membrane. At the cathode end the hydrogen ions meet up with the electrons again, reacting to create hydrogen gas.
How PEM electrolysis works.
How PEM electrolysis works.
PEM water electrolysis is considered a particularly promising technique for turning hydrogen into energy because it can use a renewable energy source as its fuel while emitting only oxygen as a by-product—without generating any carbon emissions.

Currently, about 96 percent of global hydrogen production uses alkali-based electrolysis, which runs on nonrenewable fossil fuels, to generate the hydrogen. PEM electrolysis promises to be a real game changer because its electrolytic reactions can be powered by renewable resources. In fact, it can generate storable H2 when solar and wind power provide more power than is immediately needed. And at the Wunsiedel site, the oxygen and low-temperature waste heat generated by the Silyzer will be repurposed by nearby industrial facilities.

Siemens’ Silyzer PEM water electrolysis system.

While certainly promising, the PEM electrolysis still needs some refinement if it’s going to compete with conventional hydrogen production methods. It’s more expensive than alkaline-based electrolyzers and requires more energy. However, PEM electrolysis machinery has the advantage of compact design, higher current density, a smaller  footprint, and that it can operate at lower temperatures—as well as the advantage of producing oxygen as a by-product. Reducing the cost of production while maintaining the technology’s efficiency is a key target for making PEM more commercially competitive.

With the Wunsiedel facility, Siemens is taking the forefront as a green energy provider—and will significantly contribute to Germany’s goal of becoming greenhouse gas-neutral by 2050.

Read more about the potential of hydrogen as a carbon-neutral energy source at Green Hydrogen—Powering a Sustainable Future.

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