The challenges posed by climate change demand for alternative solutions to the production and use of renewable energy sources (RES) on a large scale, in line with the decarbonisation targets set by the European Commission for 2030 and 2050. Green hydrogen can be a promising solution for decarbonising several industrial sectors. It is an energy vector produced out of water and electricity from renewable energy sources (e.g. solar, wind and hydropower) that does not generate carbon-oxide emissions, only water vapour. At present, the use of green hydrogen in industrial processes is challenged by the intermittent supply of renewable electricity which does not guarantee continuity of hydrogen production. This issue can be mitigated by developing innovative electrolysers characterized at the same time by improved efficiency, reliability and flexibility for meeting the energy demands of different industries. In order to address this “titanic challenge”, the European project PROMETEO proposes an innovative system based on high-temperature electrolysis for the production of green hydrogen. The PROMETEO prototype aims to make the most efficient use of heat and power generated from renewable sources and, in particular, from solar energy to optimize green hydrogen production in line with the energy demand of three industrial sectors. This is the challenge that PROMETEO will address to promote the penetration of RES in the European industrial sectors.
For tackling titanic challenges, a courageous titan is needed. In a similar way to the mythological Prometheus, the Titan who defied gods by stealing fire from the sun and giving it to mankind, the project PROMETEO aims to capture solar energy by creating the most efficient process ever for converting solar energy in the sustainable fuel of the future: green hydrogen. To this end, the project will use the solid oxide technology to build a 25 KWe prototype electrolyser capable of producing 15 kg of hydrogen per day. The system prototype will be modular, with the potential to be replicated on the MWe industrial scale. The prototype will combine renewable heat and electricity to perform high-temperature electrolysis in a continuous way. This is the key challenge of the PROMETEO's prototype: to produce green hydrogen even when 'direct' renewable energy will not be available or when it will be cheaper to use, such as in cases of surplus production. As in the nocturnal punishment of the Titan, PROMETEO will require an innovative system to manage the energy production and re-generation phases by minimising the withdrawal of electricity from the distribution grid and by optimising self-production from renewables when solar energy won’t be available.
The ambitious challenge and the innovativeness of the system convinced the European Community to fund the PROMETEO project with a funding of € 2.5 million provided by the public-private platform "Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking" - FCH JU.
To achieve the targets, the project is run by an interdisciplinary consortium of European partners from the research and industrial sectors. The consortium is coordinated by ENEA, the Italian National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development. The Italian-Swiss SME SOLIDpower will supply solid oxide electrolysers and the thermo-regulation system. Fondazione Bruno Kessler (FBK) and ENEA, in collaboration with the Spanish IMDEA Energy and the Swiss research institute EPFL, will model the prototype and its integration with the RES. The engineering and prototyping will be performed by the Italian company NextChem. A key role in the project is also played by potential end-users that will steer the R&D activities in PROMETEO to meet end-users’ applications. Snam (Italy) will contribute to fit PROMETEO for the injection of green hydrogen into the gas grid. Capital Energy (Spain) will provide input for the use of PROMETEO in chemical storage of renewable electricity. Stamicarbon (the Netherlands) will support the development activities for the use of green hydrogen in chemical industries such as ammonia and fertilisers production.
More information: Manuel Romero, Deputy Director IMDEA Energy, email@example.com