Fraunhofer Chile’s Green Hydrogen Explorer shows its first results



Mix of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) and Photovoltaic Energy would be the ideal complement to produce hydrogen in areas with low cloud cover and high solar irradiation, while alkaline electrolysers show lower specific costs for H2V.

Green hydrogen is considered one of the energy vectors of the future, and Chile can become a leader in its production given its great potential for renewable energy. Under this premise, a team of researchers from the Center for Solar Energy Technologies of Fraunhofer Chile developed the Green Hydrogen Explorer (EHV) that allows obtaining a preliminary evaluation for green hydrogen production, storage and transport projects, and whose first results show promise. perspectives for the installation of new projects in the north of the country.

The executive director of Fraunhofer Chile, Dr. Frank Dinter, appreciated that this tool, developed with support from CORFO’s Crea y Valida I+D+i business fund, Reactivate, allows the user to delimit and identify the aspects that generate risk and uncertainty associated with the evaluation. of H2V projects. “It is a reliable tool that generates results at the pre-feasibility level on the potential of the area based on advanced engineering models, which can be presented to investors or Project Management to support decision making. Given the possibility of also carrying out personalized simulations, it adapts quickly and easily to the dynamics presented by a changing and constantly evolving market”, indicated Dinter.

Researcher Catalina Hernández, leader of the EHV team, highlighted that “first, it is observed that there are areas with greater potential for hydrogen production, mainly influenced by their corresponding levels of global or direct solar irradiation (depending on the technology), mainly between the regions of Arica and Parinacota and the region of Antofagasta”.

As Hernández explained, “knowing the volume of hydrogen produced throughout the year and the stability of the supply is a key point to consider. Potential consumers of green hydrogen, as well as mining companies, cannot work with a fluctuating supply of hydrogen. Likewise, they require significant volumes of this energy vector to, for example, mobilize trucks, machinery and participate in mining processes in a zero emission mode, without altering the normal course of their operations”.

Ideal scenario: Mix of CSP and PV

“The key drivers of the levelized cost of hydrogen are the cost of electricity, the capital expenditures (CAPEX) associated with electrolysers and the degree of utilization of the electrolyser. While cheap electricity is one of the main drivers, variable renewables without storage can only achieve a small operating capacity of electrolysers. In other words, fewer hours of operation, which increases the participation of CAPEX in the levelized cost of hydrogen (LCOH2)” indicates Researcher Francisco Fuentes, who highlighted that, in this sense, “photovoltaic energy and solar power concentration represent an ideal complement for the production of hydrogen in places that combine high solar irradiation and low cloud cover, as occurs in certain locations in northern Chile, as can be seen on the maps on our platform”.

Lower cost with alkaline electrolysis

Catalina Hernández also highlighted that the study data confirm that, currently, alkaline electrolysis offers lower specific costs than systems based on PEM electrolysers, given that the first technology has a greater degree of technological maturity, higher levels of efficiency and lower capital costs compared to PEM type electrolysers.

“It should be noted that the costs that are observed in the potential map consider the costs of production, storage and transportation of hydrogen in a current scenario. However, it is expected that the speed in the learning curve, added to the economies of scale, will allow performance increases and significant CAPEX reductions in the coming years. This would imply very different future scenarios for decision-making to develop renewable energy projects with high potential associated with green solar hydrogen. Due to the latter, the EHV offers the option of customizing the simulations and carrying out technical-economic feasibility evaluations under various scenarios and operating conditions” concluded Hernández.


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