The e-fuel economy takes another important step towards industrialization. Construction is about to start on Europe’s largest commercial plant to produce green methanol for marine purposes.
Siemens Energy contributes 70MW electrolyzer capacity, plant-wide electrification, automation systems and digitalization as well as process gas compressors. The project is also a milestone on the way to the mass production of green hydrogen.
Hydrogen is a core element of a future decarbonized energy system. If the world’s nations and companies are to meet their climate pledges, the production of green hydrogen and derivatives such as e-methanol, e-ammonia or other e-fuels must be massively scaled up to industrial levels.
A green hydrogen economy requires renewable energy and electrolyzers to produce hydrogen from renewable electricity and water. Dedicated power-to-x facilities can process this green hydrogen and carbon dioxide (CO2) into green alternatives to the fossil fuel products from oil and natural gas.
E-methanol is one of the most promising electricity-based synthetic compounds. It is easy to store and transport and compatible with existing infrastructure. It can be used in a variety of industrial processes and as a fuel additive or alternative to fossil fuels.
In addition, the marine sector, which accounts for 3% of global CO2 emissions, is looking at e-methanol to become carbon neutral.
According to the International Maritime Organization, international shipping alone emitted 740 million metric tons of CO2 in 2018. Vessels with ‘dual fuel’ engines that can run on either e-methanol, conventional fuel, or a mixture of both are already available and are being ordered at large scale by the shipping industry.
Electrolysis and power-to-x processes are well known but have not been established for industrial-scale production. Nor are complete e-methanol plants, including electrolysis, CO2 capturing and methanol synthesis, anywhere near an off-the-shelf product. As a result, synthetic fuel is currently unavailable in sufficient quantities.
Europe’s largest commercial e-methanol production plant
The new facility called FlagshipONE, created by the Swedish company Liquid Wind AB and to be built by the energy company Ørsted, sets out to change that. It is located on a biomass-fired combined heat and power plant site in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden.
FlagshipONE will be powered by low-cost renewable electricity and consists of four proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers, a methanol reactor and a CO2 capture unit at the biomass plant. The setup ensures that the e-methanol produced meets all requirements to be certified as green.
FlagshipONE will be the largest commercial e-methanol production plant in Europe, generating 50,000 tons of e-methanol annually and thus preventing 100,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
PEM electrolyser marks a milestone towards GW target
At the heart of the plant are four 17.5MW proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzers from Siemens Energy. The company is also supplying all the plant’s electrification and automation, innovative digitalization solutions, plant wide power distribution and process gas compressors.
The electrolyzers in FlagshipONE have a name plate hydrogen production capacity of more than 1.3 tons per hour, which is compressed to approximately 90 bar for the subsequent synthesis process.
Thanks to its fast dynamics, PEM electrolysis technology is ideally suited for processing volatile energy generated from wind or solar. Although FlagshipONE receives a stable power supply from the grid, the use of PEM technology enables the facility to offer capacity for frequency stabilization services and other grid stabilization measurements
With the modular concept of Silyzer 300, Siemens Energy can serve projects up to gigawatt scale producing double digit metric tons of hydrogen per hour. In 2023, a highly automated production facility for electrolysis stacks will open in Berlin. It marks the switch to mass production and is planned to ramp up to an annual capacity of more than 3GW by 2025.
The delivery of the 70MW Silyzers for FlagshipONE is the latest milestone towards these goals.
Innovative blueprint concept makes investment decision easier
Siemens Energy’s goal to scale-up hydrogen production is in line with the approach of Liquid Wind, the original project developer and inventor of the flagship concept. Specialists for electrolysis, carbon capture and methanol production are working closely to design and produce a scalable blueprint for e-methanol plants.
FlagshipONE is the first blueprint. Its ownership has now been acquired by Ørsted. Construction will begin in spring 2023, and hydrogen production is expected to start in 2025.
The next plant, FlagshipTWO, is under development by Liquid Wind and will be able to supply 100,000 metric tons of e-methanol using a 140MW capacity electrolyzer.
About the company:
Siemens Energy is one of the world’s leading energy technology companies. The company works with its customers and partners on energy systems for the future, thus supporting the transition to a more sustainable world. With its portfolio of products, solutions and services, Siemens Energy covers almost the entire energy value chain – from power generation and transmission to storage.
About the Author:
Engelbert Schrapp, Principal Corporate Account Manager Liquid Wind & Flagships at Siemens Energy & Nima Pegemanyfar, Head of Sales Europe for Sustainable Energy Systems at Siemens Energy.
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