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PKN ORLEN to build a hydrogen hub in Włocławek

Polish state-owned oil refiner and petrol retailer PKN ORLEN is set to build a hydrogen hub in Włocławek by the end of 2021, ultimately producing up to 600 kilograms of purified hydrogen per hour.

The project provides for the construction of a plant for the production of fuel-cell grade hydrogen, logistics infrastructure and hydrogen refuelling stations.

“We are well aware of the challenges posed by the global trend of new mobility, so our strategy provides for constant development of alternative fuels and low-emission technologies,” said Daniel Obajtek, President of the PKN ORLEN Management Board.“We are confident hydrogen will be an important transport fuel in the future, so we are ramping up our work in this field. Our goal is to strengthen our leadership position in the demanding hydrogen market. Slated for completion next year and sited in Włocławek, the project will be a milestone enabling us to successfully compete with the biggest players in the region.”

As a next step, the company plans to build a similar hub at PKN ORLEN’s refinery in Płock. A hydrogen purification plant is also being built at the biorefinery in Trzebinia.

The Company will announce a tender procedure for the hydrogen hub, to be sited at the ANWIL plant in Włocławek, by the end of August. Initially, the hydrogen undergoing purification will be distributed primarily for use in public and freight transport, including rail transport. The company has already signed letters of intent on collaboration in advancing hydrogen-powered public transport services with several municipalities. As the market expands, the hydrogen fuel will also be used in passenger cars and coaches. In the long term, the company intends to supply its hydrogen for applications in ships and ferries and for stationary applications, such as heating. The hydrogen could also be sold to third parties for resale in other markets, for instance, food or metallurgical industries. Motorists can already refuel hydrogen-powered passenger cars at two ORLEN stations in Germany, with three such stations to be launched in the Czech Republic in June 2021.

“A hydrogen-powered public transport network has a real impact on return on investment in charging stations, supporting the nascent yet very promising hydrogen-powered private transport market, which also falls within the scope of PKN ORLEN’s strategic CAPEX projects,” noted Józef Węgrecki, Member of the PKN ORLEN Management Board, Operations. “[…] In cities of northern and western Europe, projects testing hydrogen-fuelled vehicles in public transport service are being extended, and low-emission buses are becoming an integral part of local public infrastructure. We are headed in the right direction.”

Investment in infrastructure for hydrogen-fuelled transport fits into the European strategy of sustainable development and is a response to the EU’s environmental target of 30 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 (compared with 2005). In common with electromobility and next-generation biofuels, hydrogen has been hailed as a fuel of the future that can provide a real tool to meet the EU’s environmental targets.

For technology and economic reasons, the public and freight transport sectors are seen as having the greatest hydrogen mobility potential. A hydrogen-powered bus has a range of about 350–450 kilometres and can run all day on one fill that only takes about ten minutes. Replacing a diesel-powered city bus with a hydrogen-fuelled one can prevent the emission of 800 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the air over the average life span of a bus, which is estimated at around 12 years. Moreover, a bus running on hydrogen is about 20 per cent quieter than one powered by a traditional engine.

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