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Establish testing protocols for electrolysers performing electricity grid services
Date de clôture : 3 mai 2016  

 Énergie renouvelable
 Horizon Europe
 Union européenne

Topic Description
Specific Challenge:

Initial implementations of fuel cells and hydrogen infrastructures are required in the EU to demonstrate the potential of these technologies to decarbonise energy and transport sectors. A wide portfolio of research and development actions have been carried out to reduce costs and increase efficiency, but it still remains unclear in which direction incremental improvements should move to. Then, to achieve cost reduction in the operation of electrolysers, efforts are needed to align them with the provision of specific electricity grid services, which are going to be required by EU transmission and distribution grids due to the foreseen high penetration of renewable energy sources (RES).

Based on the study “Development of Water Electrolysis in the European Union”* providing grid services is expected to require start-stop and dynamic operation and high efficiency across the load curve. On the other hand, future technological targets- as stated in the MAWP 2014-2020 – have overlooked the different services brought to the grid, specifically when regarding flexibility of operation and cold-hot start features.

Although the importance of dynamic operation to provide grid services is clearly stated in both documents, no special indication has been made to consider or segregate the performance of the systems depending on the specific services to be provided, the scale of the electrolyser or the load to be covered (depending on end uses for the generated hydrogen). The technical innovations required for electrolyser systems to be able to perform grid services are clearly pointed out, but also there is a requirement for economic analyses for identifying the business case advantages if electrolysers are able to offer higher levels of response, or various combinations of service, to the electricity grid.

The challenge is not only for efforts focused on developing better components and systems able to meet the already proposed KPIs, but also to further develop and prepare benchmarks at component and system levels. Additionally, set up standardized tests to study which are the specific indicators and performance requirements for each grid service to be provided, considering the feedback from Transmission/Distribution system operators (TSO/DSO). The grid needs balancing at all levels within the electricity high, medium, low voltages network (HV, MV, LV) and with reference to the distinct variabilities caused by solar PV and/or wind power. And further that the aggregation of individual electrolyser loads can make a large contribution to grid services in a region.

*Available at:


Proposals should aim to achieve the following advances:

  • Benchmarking of components and assessment of improvements through a specific testing methodology specially defined to evaluate the ability of the electrolyser to provide response suitable for each possible grid service (e.g. power quality and harmonics, primary and secondary reserve, frequency regulation, voltage management and provision of VARs, RES balancing, peak shaving, avoidance of curtailment)
  • Standardization of a testing protocol to evaluate the ability, regarding features, of electrolysers to provide grid services, taking into account the design consideration of the impact of safety requirements (safety check and start-up routines) upon response times from cold and warm starts
  • Establishment of power curves to be introduced for the emulation of T&D grids for electrolysers providing each grid service in relation to their features (e.g. depending on nominal and maximum power, type of technology). Characterization of different operation modes to provide each different grid service
  • Benchmarking and comparison of components at state of art stack level, tested according to the standardized procedures for the provision of grid services, identifying potential improvements opportunities
  • Testing power electronics, stack and balance of plant aiming at providing flexibility and rapid response to the whole system without compromising overall efficiency, safety and cost
  • Defining indicators aligned with previous studies and 2020 KPIs from the MAWP, updating them to be consistent with minimum part load and dynamic targets expressed for each technology paving the way to include these capabilities in target scales for 2020 with further consideration of electrolysers of >3MW
  • Defining and providing experimental evidence through the protocols tested and from feedback from end users to better define the future targets related with flexibility and/or reactivity as a function of the service provided, considering also potential degradation of the efficiency and lifetime duration (e.g. 1.5% efficiency degradation/year). Targets to be tested and proposals to redefine them will be aligned with the actual indicators of flexibility/reactivity:
    • Power factor >0.95
    • Operating range from 5 to 200% Nominal power
    • <2 seconds from minimum to maximum power
    • <2 seconds from maximum to minimum power
    • Cold start (from 0 to minimum power) in 30 seconds
  • Assessment of CAPEX and OPEX considering the provision of each different, and a combination of, grid services for electrolyser components and systems (to include revenues, electricity costs, replacement and maintenance of the proposed solutions, and balancing services payments). Although proposals will contribute to update KPIs on CAPEX, OPEX to consider revenues, electricity costs, replacement, maintenance of the proposed solutions, and balancing services payments (this is, considering the case and specificities of grid services provision), applicants are expected to consider and build on MAWP targets for efficiency (48 kWh/kg for PEM and 52 kWh/kg for alkaline electrolysers) and production cost (2.0 M€/t/d for 1000 kgH2/day of production) with no significant deviations
  • Definition of a business model showing the stakeholders (including DSO/TSO, generators, consumers, electrolysers operators/owners), the interrelations and the economic flows and incentives to foster introduction of electrolysers for grid operation to provide services at different scales of the electrical network. Technical, economical, legal, environmental and social aspects will be considered to define a suitable business model, considering the differences and particularities in relation to each member state and impacting this project
  • Assessment of the services with the highest potential (considering economic, technical, legal and environmental aspects) to compete or be a strong alternative in relation to other existing energy storage systems (ESS) and/or smart grid approaches considering the electrolyser size, and features as well as the possible end uses of hydrogen
  • Market potential assessment to determine the best cases and countries for introduction of electrolysers providing grid services and roadmap for implementation at EU level

The consortium should have 1 manufacturer as a partner, and both TSOs and DSOs representation in an advisory board. Preferably the advisory board should also include further electrolyser manufacturers and organisations relevant to grid services or hydrogen applications". To be eligible for participation a consortium must contain at least one constituent entity of the Industry or Research Grouping.

Projects are expected to start at TRL 4 and to reach TRL 6 regarding protocols development (not electrolyser development).

Proposals should build upon experience and results from previously funded projects both on national and/or European levels, including results from previous FCH JU projects.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU of EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

Expected Duration: 3 years

A maximum of 1 project will be funded under this topic.

Expected Impact:

The project should achieve the following impacts:

  • Contribute to a better understanding of the expected transient behaviour and features of electrolysers when providing grid services and of efficiency across the load curve to manufacturers. This effort should lead to further definition of specific KPIs for dynamic operation to provide grid services
  • Development of standardized tests and protocols for assessing the capability of electrolysers to provide grid services, providing a way to compare and assess improvements for manufacturers
  • Paving the way to achieve a standard performance of electrolysers to provide grid services (using hydrogen for different end uses), showing their potential against/combined with other ESS or approaches to reinforce electrical networks and allow wide penetration of RES
  • Specific performance indicators for the provision of each grid service will be defined from a clear understanding of the technical performance and economic factors
  • Contribution to develop a regulatory framework for energy storage at EU and member state level including electrolysers. Recommendations to promote the introduction of electrolysers in grid services in RCS at EU and member state level. Contribution to develop a regulatory framework for including electrolysers in grid services and energy storage at EU and member state level, collaborating with standardisation groups and regulators
  • Provide input towards the development of a regulatory framework for energy storage at national/regional level including electrolysers. Recommendations to promote the introduction of electrolysers in grid services in RCS at EU and member state level. Provide input towards the development of a regulatory framework for including electrolysers in grid services and energy storage at national/regional level, collaborating with standardisation groups and regulators
  • Assessment of economic quantifications of savings in operational costs for final hydrogen energy and transport infrastructures when generating hydrogen by means of electrolysers that provide grid services (e.g. generating hydrogen from curtailed energy from RES) to engage public and private financiers/operators of these installations, fostering investments in FCH installations

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