Cummins and its partners announced that HyBalance, one of Europe’s most advanced hydrogen production facilities, will continue producing hydrogen for customers across Europe. HyBalance was established in 2018 as a pilot, and the pilot was completed in September of 2020, demonstrating strong results.
“Hybalance is a leading example to other customers and communities that the future of power can be dependable using our water electrolysis capabilities,” said Amy Adams, Vice President Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies at Cummins Inc. “As the first-of-its kind, the facility demonstrated that PEM electrolysis technology is highly dynamic and flexible in terms of power fluctuations, and is able to balance the electrical grid to better utilize renewable energy. This is a tremendous step forward in Cummins’ capabilities and continues to build our reputation as a hydrogen technology leader across multiple applications.”
HyBalance was funded by Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking and the Danish EUDP program, and led by Air Liquide, Cummins (through its Hydrogenics Business), Centrica Energy Trading, LBST and Hydrogen Valley.
Located in Denmark, the HyBalance proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer supplies hydrogen to customers of Air Liquide, a world leader in gases, technologies and services for Industry and Health, and Air Liquide operates the site. The project demonstrated that producing hydrogen to store energy at a large scale – including electricity from renewable sources – is technically and economically viable. In addition, the facility has validated the PEM electrolysis technology as highly dynamic, able to cope with fast power ramps up and down. Since 2018, the 1.2-megawatt PEM electrolyzer has produced 120 tons of hydrogen, enabling 24/7 delivery of 60 tons of hydrogen to an industrial customer and demonstrating its ability to balance the electricity grid. The remaining 60 tons have been delivered to other customers, including hydrogen stations for fuel cell taxis in Denmark’s capital city, Copenhagen.
Hydrogen makes other forms of renewable energy more viable by providing efficient and portable storage of electricity. Sourcing power from wind turbines, the PEM electrolyzer can economically convert wind energy to hydrogen and oxygen in a process called water electrolysis. Hydrogen is produced when electricity prices are low which is typically the case when wind energy is abundant. Then, the hydrogen can be stored or transported easily to customers.
“Air Liquide is proud to have contributed to the success of the HyBalance project. Clean hydrogen being a major key lever for a carbon neutral world, the plant will keep delivering low-carbon hydrogen to customers,” Pierre-Étienne Franc, Vice-President for Hydrogen Energy, Air Liquide. “The facility is already a model for larger scale PEM electrolyzers around the world including another Air Liquide plant located in Bécancour, Québec with a 20 MW electrolyzer, to start soon.”
Electrolyzers enable the production of hydrogen, which can be used by industrial clients or stored and used to power applications, including trains, buses, trucks and more. Cummins has hundreds operational in the field. Water electrolysis produces no harmful emissions — only oxygen and hydrogen. And when hydrogen is used to power a fuel cell electric vehicle, only pure water is released.
Denmark is on the cutting edge of clean power. In 2019, 47% of electricity consumed in Denmark came from wind power, compared to just 6.6% in the U.S. By converting electricity into hydrogen, the HyBalance project helps balance the grid and allows excess electricity to be stored and used at a later time in the industrial sector or as clean fuel for transportation. The facility in Denmark is capable of supplying a fleet of more than 1,000 fuel cell electric vehicles.
In September 2019, Cummins acquired the Hydrogenics Corporation, which provided Cummins with PEM fuel cells as well as alkaline and PEM electrolyzers used to generate hydrogen. Cummins continues to demonstrate the technical and economic viability of producing and storing hydrogen at scale, and this first-of-its-kind electrolyzer marks an exciting success for both Cummins and hydrogen fuel cell technology at large. The HyBalance project has paved the way for PEM electrolyzers around the world, including the world’s largest PEM electrolyzer—Cummins 20-megawatt PEM electrolyzer located in Bécancour, Québec. The PEM electrolyzer, which is being built in partnership with Air Liquide, will be the largest of its kind in the world with an annual hydrogen output of approximately 3,000 tons.