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Polenergia secures funding for large-scale green hydrogen R&D project

The National Centre for Research and Development (NCRD), an executive agency of the Polish Ministry of Education and Science, will subsidise Polenergia’s research and development project (R&D) ‘H2 HUB Nowa Sarzyna: Green Hydrogen Storage’. The agreement was signed last week and, as outlined in the agreement, the full amount of the grant may total 95 million złotych (almost 20 million euros).

The project is being implemented as part of a consortium led by Polenergia, Poland’s largest private energy group. The other partners are Elektrociepłownia Nowa Sarzyna and the Wrocław University of Technology.

The aim of the ‘H2 HUB Nowa Sarzyna: Green Hydrogen Storage’ project is to use green hydrogen, produced by electrolysis of water powered by renewable energy, to produce renewable aviation fuel. Accelerating renewable aviation fuel production would reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the aviation industry, without the need to build new infrastructure, fuel bases and develop new aircraft designs.

“Green hydrogen production is an important part of Polenergia’s strategy. As one of the leaders in renewable energy in Poland, we are conducting an advanced program to develop new business based precisely on green hydrogen. Its element is a large-scale hydrogen plant produced by water electrolysis in Upper Silesia, as well as smaller projects, such as a 5 MW installation located at the Nowa Sarzyna Combined Heat and Power Plant that produces green hydrogen for the needs of industry, energy and public transport, and a project for the production of renewable aviation fuel, for which we signed a contract”, said Iwona Sierżęga, member of the Polenergia Group Management Board.

Polenergia was among six teams awarded funding by the National Centre for Research and Development to implement innovative energy projects in the spring of 2022, as part of the first “New Technologies in the field of energy” competition. The competition supports Poland’s climate neutrality achievements through the implementation of initiatives that enhance the country’s energy security and increase the competitiveness of the domestic economy.

The ‘H2 HUB Nowa Sarzyna: Green Hydrogen Storage’ project will be implemented in three stages. After the implementation of each stage, the consortium and NCBR will evaluate the results of the project and decide whether to proceed to the next stage.

The first stage includes the creation of an extensive feasibility study. The signed agreement provides for a subsidy of nearly 100,000 złotych for this phase of the project, which is half of the expected financial outlay for this stage of the project. The total value of the NCBiR grant for the entire H2HUB project is more than 95 million złotych, (almost 20 million euros).

Green hydrogen is seen as a critical element in the energy transition, allowing for avoiding CO2 emissions in industrial sectors that are difficult to decarbonise, such as steel or cement production, maritime transport, and aviation.

However, a key challenge for the future adaptation of hydrogen as an energy carrier is its relatively low energy density compared to traditional fuels. Its storage requires the construction of advanced tanks in which hydrogen is stored in gaseous form under high pressure. An alternative storage method is the conversion of hydrogen to other chemical compounds, such as liquid fuels.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen recently called hydrogen a potential ‘game changer for Europe’ as the EU’s executive body approved a second Important Project of Common European Interest (‘IPCEI’) to support research and innovation, and first industrial deployment and construction of relevant infrastructure in the hydrogen value chain.

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