21st March 2023

PEM Electrolyzers Key to Decarbonizing Oman

Experts agree green hydrogen is the key to safely powering at least 20% of our world.

As pressure mounts to decarbonize the Oman economy, leaders have been looking to green hydrogen solutions to help the nation reach net-zero by 2050. The solution for reaching that sustainability goal is PEM electrolyzers, a technology that has proven to become increasingly popular around the world.

Experts agree that green hydrogen is the key to safely powering at least 20% of the world, including the economy in Oman. Green hydrogen is produced from renewable resources like wind, water or solar. Other forms of hydrogen are produced from non-sustainable sources that release carbon emissions, whereas green hydrogen only releases oxygen.

Not only is green hydrogen environmentally friendly, it doesn’t have the problems that many other forms of energy have. For example, industries that transitioned to batteries quickly learned that they aren’t practical for long-term use in the delivery fleet industry in particular because of the added weight to the vehicle and decrease in available package space during the transportation of goods. Hydrogen fuel cells do not have these issues.

To ensure adoption of green hydrogen is as easy as possible, Plug created the green hydrogen ecosystem where every step of operations is addressed, including liquifying, producing, storing, and transporting the fuel.

Oman is uniquely positioned to become a world leader in the hydrogen economy, specifically in green hydrogen production with several factors driving that desire, such as the availability of year-round solar and wind energy, vast available space, a highly stable socio-political system, a strategic location on the world shipping map and well-developed ports.

Electrolyzers 101 The process of electrolysis has been known for more than two centuries with PEM electrolyzer production beginning in 1950. Interest in electrolyzers is quickly growing with experts estimating the global electrolyzer capacity to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 78% over the next decade, rising from 0.5 gigawatts (GW) of installed capacity in 2022 to 84.7 gigawatts in 2031, according to a March 2022 report from Guidehouse Insights, a marketplace advisory firm that covers the energy industry.

The International Renewable Energy Agency noted in 2020 that the post-2020 generation of electrolyzer projects is expected to move from niche to mainstream and escalate from megawatt to gigawatt in scale. Industry’s goals are to reach lower cost, higher durability, and higher efficiency for electrolyzers over time, which will require scaled production, more manufacturing power, and research-driven technological advancements.

With a team that has nearly five decades of experience, Plug has developed electrolyzers that have very high current densities, high pressure output and seamless load following capabilities. The Plug team is currently providing electrolyzers for projects ranging from 1 megawatt to 1 gigawatt, deployed across five continents to help decarbonize a multitude of applications, including refineries, chemical and fertilizer production, manufacturing and heavy industry, heating homes and buildings, and powering fuel-cell electric vehicles.

In fact, Fertiglobe — the strategic partnership between OCI N.V. and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company — recently selected Plug to provide 100 megwatts of electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen as a feedstock for up to 90,000 tons of green ammonia production at EBIC in Ain Sokhna, Egypt.

Green ammonia, produced from renewable energy such as solar and wind instead of natural gas, is a versatile product that is an ideal carrier fuel to store and transport hydrogen, and can help decarbonize numerous sectors which represent around 80% of current global greenhouse gas emissions, including as an important alternative fuel in the power sector in Japan and other countries.

Plug electrolyzer solutions range from turnkey containerized modules to custom-engineered plants for large-scale production. Containerized solutions work best for 0.5 to 10 tons of hydrogen per day demand, whereas plant-level solutions are ideal beyond 10 tons per day.

PEM vs Alkaline When it comes to the complexity and cost of balance of plant (BOP) as the system size increases, PEM has a lower cost compared to alkaline, according to the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE. In fact, the total cost of ownership of a PEM electrolyzer is lower than alkaline with forecasters estimating that PEM service costs are one-third of alkaline. When scaling an electrolyzer, PEM has significant cost advantages in balance of plant economics. On a per-kilowatt basis, the capital expenditure associated with an alkaline electrolyzer increases significantly as the system scales. With PEM, there are options for streamlining BOP to minimize upfront cost in larger systems above 10 megawatts.

When considering output pressure, standard alkaline electrolyzers deliver output at a low pressure of 1 to 10 bar, which is a nearly ambient pressure. For most applications, hydrogen must be further compressed for transport, storage, or consumption. On the flip side, Plug’s PEM electrolyzers have an output of 40 bar — that’s 4 to 40 times of a typical alkaline system. Finally, the cost of safety is another measurement businesses should consider. Increased safety concerns with alkaline electrolyzers lead to more required safety equipment, labor, permitting, and compliance costs for businesses, and worst of all, putting worker well–being at risk. Alkaline electrolyzers also use potassium hydroxide, which is a highly corrosive chemical that can severely harm any individual who encounters it. Health experts say it can cause headaches, nausea, eye damage or irritation to the lungs, among other symptoms.

With PEM electrolyzers, technicians and operators only deal with one “chemical” while working on PEM systems – water.

Electrolyzer Technology for Oman Oman is an ideal country for renewable energy due to the high-solar radiance and wind, and PEM is the optimal technology to pair with intermittent renewable energy due to its ability to ramp up and down quickly.

Promoting In-country value (ICV) is an important element in Plug’s overall strategy for Oman. Plug, which has an office in Muscat, is well-aligned with Oman’s drivers for ICV and its significance. Depending on specific project requirements and expectations, Plug is committed to sourcing from the local supply chain and to training local talent in order to bring additional value in Oman for years to come.

Interested in exploring how Plug can help your company improve operations with our best-in-class green hydrogen electrolyzer products? Contact us today at plugpower.com/contact-us.

SIDEBAR TEXT BOX: A Glance at Plug Customers • OCI in Egypt: Plug recently shipped its first 5-megawatt module to Fertiglobe, a strategic partnership between OCI and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, in Egypt. It’s the first of many units that will be a part of a 100-megawatt project, which will be the largest independently owned facility globally when it comes online. Plug is proud to support Fertiglobe as it produces green hydrogen as feedstock for up to 90,000 tons of green ammonia production at EBIC in Ain Sokhna, Egypt.

• H2 Energy in Denmark: Plug will deliver a 1-gigawatt electrolyzer to hydrogen company H2 Energy Europe. Planned for a green hydrogen production complex in Denmark, this is the largest capacity electrolyzer installation in the world to date. Harnessing offshore wind power, Plug’s electrolyzer technology will enable the production of up to 100,000 metric tons per year of green hydrogen for use in the energy and transportation sector in northern Europe, supplying the fuel needed for the equivalent of approximately 15,000 heavy duty vehicles per day.

• New Fortress Energy, USA: Plug and New Fortress Energy Inc. entered into an agreement for a 120-megawatt industrial-scale green hydrogen plant in Texas. Expected to be one of the largest of its kind in North America, the facility will leverage Plug’s industry-leading proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis technology and enable the production of more than 50 tons per day (TPD) of green hydrogen. With the development of additional supporting infrastructure, the facility will be scalable to nearly 500 megawatts.

• MOL in Hungary: MOL Group and Plug have partnered to build one of Europe’s largest-capacity green hydrogen production facilities at MOL’s Danube Refinery in Százhalombatta, Hungary. Green hydrogen will reduce the carbon footprint of the Danube Refinery operation and enable emission-free mobility in the longer term. Utilizing a 10-megawatt (MW) electrolysis unit from Plug Power, MOL’s €22 million facility will be able to produce approximately 1,600 tons of clean, carbon-neutral, green hydrogen annually, removing up to 25,000 tons of carbon dioxide by displacing the currently used natural gas-based production process.

• NTPC in India – Plug has partnered with France's Technip Energies to supply, construct and commission a 5-megawatt electrolyzer to NTPC. NTPC intends to produce hydrogen through PEM water electrolysis and capture carbon emissions from waste flue gas to convert into methanol.

• Hiringa in New Zealand: Plug will provide eight 1-megawatt electrolyzer systems to create hydrogen for Class 8 FCEV truck refueling along the island nation’s primary ring road delivery route.

• Lhyfe in France: Plug will provide 10 5-megawatt PEM electrolyzer systems to Lhyfe, which aims to produce a renewable green hydrogen using primarily wind and solar-power for various mobility applications in Europe, including forklifts and light commercial vehicles, such as the Master Van from Hyvia, Plug’s joint venture with Renault with hydrogen deliveries as early as 2023. Plug and Lhyfe also recently announced the first marinized electrolyzer to produce hydrogen at sea.
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