German electrolyser maker Sunfire has installed what appears to be one of Europe’s largest pressurised alkaline electrolysis system at a green hydrogen and synthetic methane project in western Finland, the company announced today (Tuesday).
The 20MW pressurised alkaline electrolyser was installed at Finnish green fuels developer P2X Solution’s project in Harjavalta, one year after construction began, with first hydrogen expected in the second half of 2024.
When operational, it will join three other 20MW-sized projects believed to be Europe’s largest at present: Everfuel’s HySynergy project at the Crossbridge refinery in Federicia in Denmark, Ovako’s green steel project in Sweden and Iberdrola’s Puertollano green hydrogen project in Spain.
However all four projects are likely to be superseded in size in the near future, if Shell finishes construction of its giant 200MW Holland Hydrogen 1 offshore wind-to-green hydrogen plant in the Netherlands on time in 2025.
Green hydrogen produced at Harjavalta will be delivered to Finnish customers in the chemicals sector, including a sweetener factory in the country owned by American food giant International Flavors and Fragrances (IFF).
The IFF-owned Danisco Sweeteners factory uses hydrogen for its chemical properties in the production of xylitol, a synthesised sugar alternative widely used in consumer goods.
Danisco signed an offtake agreement with P2X in November last year, although the volumes the company has committed to have not been revealed.
The Harjavalta project should be able to produce around 3,500 tonnes of green hydrogen per year if it operates at full capacity of 400kg per hour and at 100% utilisation, according to Hydrogen Insight’s calculations, with 70% sold to market and the remainder used in the project’s on-site methanisation plant.
This section of the project will produce “renewable synthetic methane” from carbon dioxide — which P2X Solutions will have to source — and green hydrogen.
P2X Solutions CEO Herkko Plit told Hydrogen Insight that it would source CO2 from the market at first, before switching to its own sources of biogenic carbon (sourced from biomass), which will be critical to enabling the fuel’s classification as “renewable” in the EU.
Sunfire's electrolyser will be powered with wind power, but although P2X Solutions has not said how this will be procured Plit said it would be compatible with the EU's Delegated Acts.
Finland’s grid is still only 56% renewable, according to data from Nowtricity, however as the project is likely to come on line before 2027 it will be exempt from the EU’s most stringent rules on sourcing grid-based electricity until 2038.
The Harjavalta project is also appears to be one of the largest using pressurised alkaline electrolysers, which advocates say can ramp up and down as fast as proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers without the associated high capex costs, as well as saving money on a compressor.
The Everfuel and Ovako projects both use alkaline models supplied by Norway’s Nel, while the Iberdrola project uses a PEM model, also supplied by Nel.
Belgium’s John Cockerill which only makes pressurised alkaline models, said in 2022 it had installed 206MW of its products worldwide, although it did not reveal how that number has been accumulated.
Norway’s HydrogenPro also makes pressurised alkaline electrolysers. However, its 500MW production facility is located in China in order to access Asian markets.
Hydrogen Insight contacted Sunfire and John Cockerill for further comment but had not received a response at the time of publication.
UPDATED: with new information on power and carbon dioxide sources for the project, as well as the ratio of hydrogen production sold to market and used for the production of e-methane, respectively.