Nel has officially opened its 500MW fully automated alkaline electrolyser factory in Herøya, southern Norway, which the manufacturer says will help reduce the cost of green hydrogen by up to 75%.
The plant can be rapidly scaled up to 2GW of annual production, with the company targeting 10GW by 2025 “if required by the market”.
“Green renewable hydrogen currently makes up just 1% of the world’s total industrial and mobility hydrogen consumption,” the company said. “But Nel’s pioneering new plant… is at the forefront of the race to turn one into 100. In addition, [the] falling cost of green hydrogen will unlock new application areas where green hydrogen is the best or [the] only option for decarbonising.”
The Norwegian company has a goal to enable a levelised cost of green hydrogen production of $1.50/kg (when the electricity used costs $20/MWh, which is already being achieved by some solar projects around the world).
“Half of the savings we need to make will come from scale-up and increased efficiency in production,” explained Nel CEO Jon André Løkke. “The rest will come from the economy of scale, and from effective industrial partnerships.”
Nel is currently manufacturing what it claims are the “best alkaline electrolysers in the world”, but these are unpressurised, or “atmospheric”. The company is aiming to start building pressurised alkaline machines at the site next year, which are said to be better suited to the ups and downs of wind and solar power, much like proton-exchange-membrane (PEM) electrolysers.
Nel also produces PEM machines in Connecticut, with Løkke explaining: “The next step would be to industrialize our PEM technology in the US in a similar way.”
He added that the company has developed large-scale modular systems based on “building blocks” of 20, 100 and 200MW, which “allow us to optimize the overall capex and realise synergies to reduce cost”.
At the factory opening on Wednesday, Norwegian minister of petroleum and energy Terje Aasland, told the gathering: “Hydrogen is an energy carrier with significant potential to reduce emissions from a number of sectors.
“With the new factory here at Herøya, you are laying a solid foundation for it to happen. This is a step in the right direction towards a future without emissions. In a growing hydrogen market, even more electrolysers are needed.”