Hydrogen from sunlight emerges as green energy source

December 03, 2017 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
A group of European research partners has developed the largest solar chemical plant for hydrogen production to date. This should enable commercial energy generation in about ten years' time.

In the HYDROSOL_Plant project, scientists and industrial companies have further developed the process of direct hydrogen production by solar radiation. With improved materials and a new structure of the reactor, it was possible to build a plant with an output of 750 kilowatts. It is thus much more powerful than the previous development stage, which had an output of 100 kW. In the coming months, scientists at Plataforma Solar in Almería (PSA) in southern Spain will be producing hydrogen in a test and demonstration plant to investigate the suitability of the materials.

Hydrogen has the potential to increase the share of renewable energies, especially in the transport and heating sectors. In vehicles with fuel cell drive, for example it can be used as a fuel. It is also a component in the production of synthetic fuels such as methane, methanol, petrol and kerosene. Hydrogen generated from renewable energies can thus significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the transport and heating sectors. Karsten Lemmer, Member of the Executive Board for Energy and Transport at the German Aerospace Research Institute DLR which participates in the project, stresses: "Hydrogen engines can make a significant contribution to climate protection, especially in the transport sector. The research project HYDROSOL_Plant is an essential step on the way to efficient hydrogen production using solar energy."

Coordinated by the Greek Aerosol and Particle Technology Laboratory (CERTH-CPERI-APTL), DLR, the Spanish research institute Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT), the Dutch company HyGear and the Greek energy supplier Hellenic Petroleum are cooperating in the international project. The DLR Institute for Solar Research is responsible for the development of the solar reactor, plant layout and measurement and control technology. The project was funded by the European Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH 2 JU).