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World’s largest “green” hydrogen pilot facility commences operation

By Mary Page Bailey |

What is currently the world’s largest pilot plant for the CO2-neutral production of hydrogen has successfully commenced operation at the Linz site of voestalpine AG (Linz, Austria; www.voestalpine.com), simultaneously setting an international milestone in the advancement of new energy supply options. As part of the EU-funded H2FUTURE project, partners voestalpine, VERBUND, Siemens, Austrian Power Grid, K1-MET and TNO are researching the industrial production of green hydrogen as a means of replacing fossil fuels in steel production over the long term. 

In Linz, the world’s largest electrolyzer has commenced production of green hydrogen. The new plant has a capacity of over 6 megawatts, and is currently regarded as the most effective and state-of-the-art facility of its type. It will be used to test whether the technology deployed to produce green hydrogen is suitable for use on an industrial scale. Furthermore, the project, which receives EUR 18 million in EU funding, will investigate the potential to provide network services, and potentially compensate for fluctuations in the power grid.

As an industry pioneer in environmental protection, voestalpine is following a consistent, long-term strategy of decarbonizing the steel production process.

“We have set ourselves a clear goal of greater direct avoidance of CO2 emissions in steel manufacturing over the coming years. With the start of operations at the world’s largest hydrogen pilot plant at our site in Linz, we have succeeded in taking a significant step towards driving this technological transformation,” says Herbert Eibensteiner, Chairman of the Management Board of voestalpine AG

In light of global climate targets, voestalpine is currently investigating the practicality of a hybrid technology to bridge between the existing coke/coal-based blast furnace route and electric arc furnaces powered with green electricity partly generated using green hydrogen. If economically feasible, from today’s perspective this option would reduce the Group’s CO2 emissions by around a third sometime between 2030 and 2035. Over the long-term, voestalpine is striving to successively increase the use of green hydrogen in the steel production process, allowing the Group to reduce its CO2 emissions by a total of over 80% by 2050.

“The most important precondition for scenario planning based on green electricity and green hydrogen is, however, sufficient quantities of renewable energy available at commercially realistic prices. This is the only way in which we can apply tomorrow’s technologies in a truly competitive manner,” Eibensteiner adds.

The high-tech heart of the plant, the Siemens Silyzer 300, has a capacity of six megawatts, and can generate 1,200 cubic meters of green hydrogen. H2FUTURE is an important milestone for the industrial application of electrolysis as a cornerstone for future industrial applications in the steel industry, in refineries, the manufacture of fertilizers, and other industrial sectors requiring large volumes of hydrogen. It creates the basis for future projects on an industrial scale.

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