Hydrogen Production Technologies
Q4/2023 Market Review

08.01.2024 / Lukas Strohmeier
In the ever-evolving landscape ofrenewable energy, the global green hydrogen market has been a beacon ofprogressive change and technological innovation. As we delve into the last quartermarket developments (Q4) of 2023, several significant developments have unfolded, shaping the futureof this emerging industry.

In a significant technological shift for large-scale hydrogen projects, Spanish energy giant Iberdrola has announced its decision to use alkaline electrolysers in its upcoming major renewable hydrogen projects in Spain. This move, highlighted by the company's hydrogen business developer Carolina Perez at the World Hydrogen Congress in Rotterdam, represents a notable departure from their previous reliance on proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers, as seen in their 20 MW Puertol lano plant, the largest of its kind in Europe. This strategic choice by Iberdrola signals a broader industry trend towards embracing more established technologies for scaling up hydrogen production, potentially influencing future global hydrogen projects. 

Meanwhile, the hydrogen market witnessed a significant milestone with the emergence of its first 'unicorn' - Electric Hydrogen, now valued at $1 billion following a successful funding round. The company's innovation in designing standardized, low-cost PEM-based electrolyzer plants has garnered over 5 GW in capacity reservations, signaling robust market confidence.However, the sector has observed a slower pace in final investment decisions (FIDs) forgreen hydrogen projects, with notable developments being Fortescue's 80 MW & 50 MW projects in the US.

In contrast, major strides have been made in blue hydrogen, with Air Products and Air Liquide announcing significant FIDs in Rotterdam. These projects, set to produce over 200,000 tons of blue hydrogen, mark a pivotal step in hydrogen's industrial application. Despite these promising advancements, the sector has also faced setbacks. Several green hydrogen projects, including the pivotal Westküste 100 in Germany and the collaboration between Fortum and SSAB in Raahe, Finland, have been shelved. Furthermore, Plug’s plant in Georgia is still not operational.

Emerging Power of Asia overshadowed by problems at largest green hydrogen project in China

Negative news from China dominated the newsfeeds in December: The Sinopec Kuqa green hydrogen project in northwest China, currently the world's largest, is facing significant problems. The 260 MW facility is operating at only about 20% of its planned capacity due to technical issues with its alkaline electrolysers, which were supplied by three different Chinese manufacturers.

These issues prevent the electrolysers from safely producing hydrogen when receiving electricity below about 50% of its maximum output. Consequently, the facility has produced far less hydrogen than the expected 20,000 tonnes annually. Sinopec anticipates that these problems will not be fully resolved until late 2025.

Those problems overshadowed many very positive developments in Asia: Chinese players continue their internationalization efforts. TrinaSolar, a prominent player in China's solar industry, is setting its sights on India's rapidly expanding market for green hydrogen electrolysers. With India's commitment to reducing carbon emissions and embracing renewable energy, Trina Solar's move could significantly impact the country's energy landscape.

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