Press Release

European consortium with Shell and ITM Power announces agreement to build electrolysis at rhineland refinery


thinkstep is pleased to note the announcement by Shell that will implement - together with ITM Power - a new hydrogen electrolysis plant, the largest of its kind in the world. thinkstep as a globally leading provider of software tools, data and services for life cycle assessment (LCA) and related topics, will be responsible for the greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions analysis and reporting.

This includes, among other tasks, a detailed GHG emissions analysis of the actual hydrogen production. The analysis will consider the supply route(s) of the electricity used as well as the entire life cycle of the electrolyser itself including all balance of plant equipment. This entails the conduction of various scenario and sensitivity analyses involving electricity produced from different, preferably renewable, resources, the analysis of alternative end uses for the produced hydrogen and the consideration of CO2 credits for the provision of grid balancing services. The full text of Shell’s announcement is set out below.

Shell and ITM Power will build the world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis plant at Rhineland refinery, Germany. With a peak capacity of 10 megawatts the hydrogen will be used for the processing and upgrading of products at the refinery’s Wesseling site as well as testing the technology and exploring application in other sectors.

The European partner consortium of Shell, ITM Power, SINTEF, thinkstep and Element Energy has now secured 10 million euros in funding from the European “Fuel Cell Hydrogen Joint Undertaking”. The project’s total investment, including integration into the refinery, is approximately 20 million euros.

Detailed technical planning and the approval process will now begin. The plant, named “Refhyne” is scheduled to be in operation in 2020 and will be the first industrial scale test of the polymer electrolyte membrane technology process.

“This new unit at Rhineland enables hydrogen to be made from electricity rather than natural gas. A unit of this kind brings a flexibility that can help the stability of the power grid, thereby facilitating more use of renewable electricity”, explains Lori Ryerkerk, Executive Vice President of Shell Manufacturing. “In addition, if powered by renewable electricity, the green hydrogen will help reduce the carbon intensity of the site – a key goal for us“.

Currently the Rheinland refinery, Germany’s largest, requires approximately 180,000 tons of hydrogen annually, which is produced by steam reforming from natural gas. The new facility will be able to produce an additional 1,300 tonnes of hydrogen per year, which can be fully integrated into the refinery processes, such as for the desulphurization of conventional fuels.

Shell Rheinland Refinery General Manager Thomas Zengerly highlights: “We are pleased to be working collaboratively with the European Union and to assist in developing Europe’s future energy system by testing this technology at the Wesseling site. If successful there is potential for this technology to be expanded at our refinery.”

Hydrogen has the potential to play an important role in the energy transition. Today, hydrogen is already being used in transport by fuel cell vehicles, as well as in industrial applications. When used in transport, hydrogen can help improve local air quality, as the only emissions of fuel cell vehicles is water vapour. When the hydrogen is produced from renewable sources, it can help improve CO2 emissions from the transport sector. Shell is taking part in several initiatives to build up a hydrogen refueling network for transport in a number of markets, including Germany.

This project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement No 779579. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Hydrogen Europe Industry and Hydrogen Europe Research.”

Watch this video about the Refhyne project.