In September 2018 in Hobro, Denmark, Air Liquide inaugurated HyBalance, a pilot site for the production of carbon-free hydrogen. This unit’s specificity is that it uses electrolysis technology which allows it to balance the electricity grid and store surplus electricity in the form of hydrogen that will be used in industry and transportation. This project was initiated in 2016 in a country that is pioneering the energy transition.
A pilot site for the production of carbon-free hydrogen
The idea of HyBalance is to purchase surplus electricity at a competitive cost to convert and store it as hydrogen. Two advantages stand out: it makes possible the exploitation of energy that would otherwise be wasted and its conversion into hydrogen is done via electrolysis, which is a non-pollution generating process.
The electrolyzer, with a capacity of 1.2 MW, enables the production of around 500kg of hydrogen a day without releasing CO2. This corresponds to a recharging capacity of 1,000 hydrogen vehicles per year.
An innovative project at the service of our customers and hydrogen mobility
Air Liquide developed, built, and is operating the facility that produces hydrogen from water electrolysis as well as the filling center for its customers delivered by trailers. The hydrogen produced is used to supply the network of five hydrogen stations installed and operated by the Copenhagen Hydrogen Network (CHN), a subsidiary of Air Liquide in Denmark. In the coming years, HyBalance will serve the mobility applications that will continue to develop in Denmark.
A technology that generates no CO2 emissions
A brief reminder of the principle of electrolysis: it is the process of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by applying an electrical current. At the HyBalance site, electricity is converted into hydrogen through a PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) electrolyzer. Also known as "Power-to-Hydrogen", this process does not generate any pollution. Therefore, it makes the delivery fully carbon-free hydrogen possible, as long as the electricity itself comes from renewable energies such as wind. This project illustrates the Group's commitment to developing technological solutions for lower greenhouse gas emissions in order to fight climate change.
Store and recover surplus energy
In Denmark, when the wind is heavy and the electricity consumption is low, the electricity from wind turbines (which account for 40% of its electricity production), can generate a surplus and cause an overload of the grid. The major interest of HyBalance is to be able to store energy that would be lost and to ensure the stability of the network by 'absorbing' surplus electricity.
Denmark, a country pioneering the energy transition
Besides having many wind turbines, Denmark is a pioneer in the integration of renewable energies into the national energy mix, as its share has doubled over the past 10 years. Also, the country has salt caverns close to Hobro that can be used for large-scale storage of hydrogen. In line with Air Liquide's commitments, the Danish government is also actively promoting the development of zero-emission vehicles, including hydrogen. By compensating for renewable energy intermittency, hydrogen offers a solution for storing surplus electricity to meet the challenges posed by the energy transition.