Increased penetration of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar is driving a need for improved energy storage technologies to manage the overall grid supply and demand, for short term fluctuations as well as long-term seasonal time variations. This challenge will require a combination of solutions, depending on geography, the mix of renewables, and other factors. At the same time, the need for a sustainable source of hydrogen has been widely recognized, not just as a potential transportation fuel, but to limit CO2
production and fossil fuel consumption from existing industrial processes such as ammonia generation. Leveraging renewable hydrogen as an energy storage solution has gained momentum through H2@Scale, an initiative to look at the synergies between intermittent renewable energy sources, industrial applications, transportation, and other grid management considerations. This talk will focus on the evolution of membrane-based water electrolysis as a renewable hydrogen pathway, and implications for industrial and energy applications.
Commercial proton exchange membrane (PEM)-based electrolysis has advanced to larger and larger scale over the last fifteen years, progressing from systems of 1 kg H2/day or less to several hundred kg/day. While leveraging the same basic manufacturing processes and technology, scale up has driven down the capital cost per kg of hydrogen by over 80%. PEM electrolysis also has tremendous potential for continuing cost reduction, leveraging system and manufacturing scaling laws as well as leveraging advancements in PEM fuel cell materials, manufacturing, and analysis tools. Order of magnitude improvements in some of the highest cost elements are easily achievable. The technology elements are known, but need to be refined and validated in a manufacturing environment, including modifications in materials and methods of fabrication. This talk will present a case study on successful implementation of cost reduced components for PEM electrolysis, opportunities for similar reduction in other components, and overall impact on cost and efficiency.