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A new tandem plant will test to what extent an H2 electrolyser can follow the generation profile of a 50 megawatt solar plant and investigate the optimal performance ratio between an electrolyser and a solar park.

In theory, when a solar plant is coupled with a hydrogen electrolyser – which can convert excess electricity into green hydrogen (H2) as a form of storable energy – the combination could play role in reducing grid congestion. Now a first-of-its-kind, international project aims to put this hypothesis to the test.

The German renewables giant BayWa and its Dutch subsidiary GroenLeven have signed an agreement with Alliander, the largest network operator in the Netherlands, to build the “SinneWetterstof” pilot in Oosterwolde, Friesland. The tandem plant, which Alliander will start building in 2021, will test to what extent an H2 electrolyser can follow the generation profile of a 50 megawatt solar plant and investigate the optimal performance ratio between an electrolyser and a solar park.

The development follows in the footsteps of the European Commission’s new hydrogen strategy, unveiled in July 2020, which offers support for the installation of electrolysers for green hydrogen production with a capacity of 6 gigawatts by 2024. The project also supports Alliander’s broader objective of addressing the problem of rising regional grid congestion.

It is hoped that the powerful solar-plus-hydrogen combination would reduce the need for network expansion to build more solar plants, increase the efficiency and output of future renewable plants and ultimately support the global transition to green energy.

"The pilot project in Oosterwolde gives us the opportunity to gain experience with the use of an electrolyser in terms of control, controllability and safety. We also want to investigate how the entire hydrogen chain works, what agreements need to be made with the parties involved and what laws and regulations are necessary," says Ben Tubben, project manager at Alliander in an article in SolarServer.