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How Power Conversion solutions are a key enabler of the hydrogen future

In the quest for a sustainable future, the spotlight shines brightly on the promise of green hydrogen. Often dubbed the “fuel of the future,” green hydrogen represents a key solution in decarbonizing industries, transportation, and energy production.

Today, hydrogen is mainly used in the refining and chemical sectors and produced using fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, and thus responsible for significant annual CO2 emissions. As such, the switch from traditionally produced hydrogen to hydrogen produced from renewable energy is a major improvement to achieve global CO2 emission reduction targets. Additionally, for several applications, hydrogen is considered as a means of energy storage or energy carrier, reducing dependence on fossil sources or reducing the disbalance between energy production and usage.

Green Hydrogen Production Facilities: The Heart of Transformation

At the heart of green hydrogen production lie sophisticated facilities where electrolysis takes center stage. These facilities comprise electrolysers - machines that use electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. In case the electricity is from a renewable source, the hydrogen produced can be labeled as Green Hydrogen.

Large scale Green Hydrogen production facilities have a connection to the high voltage electrical grid, whereas the electrolysers require low voltage DC input. This means power conversion equipment is required to convert the electricity. For any facility to be granted a connection to the electrical grid, it has to be compliant to grid requirements. On the electrolyser side, the converter has to adjust voltage and current to match the specific requirements of electrolysers.

Tailoring Power Conversion Topologies for Grid Compliance and Electrolyser Characteristics

For large scale green hydrogen production, the selection of power conversion topologies isn’t a one-size-fits-all affair. Instead, it’s a delicate dance between grid compliance requirements and the electrical behavior of electrolysers, as caused by the power converters. Understanding these dynamics sheds light on why various conversion topologies are more fitting depending on specific grid requirements and electrolyser’s electrical characteristics.

Grid compliance standards serve as the compass guiding the choice of power conversion topologies. Grid operators define stringent regulations encompassing parameters like voltage, frequency, and power quality. Meeting these standards is non-negotiable for seamless integration and reliable operation within the existing grid infrastructure and is depending on local circumstances, such as congestion, other energy consumers and overall impact of the electrolyser on the local grid. In practice, we see that there is a significant difference between projects in for instance France, where in a majority of cases the limits as defined by international standards are being used, and in for instance The Netherlands or Denmark, where requirements are severely tightened by the grid operators.

In scenarios demanding high power quality and stringent harmonic distortion limits, certain power conversion topologies - such as active front-end converters or multilevel inverters - might take precedence. These topologies excel in mitigating harmonics and ensuring compliance with grid codes, making them ideal choices where grid standards prioritize power quality.

Matching the Puzzle Pieces: Adaptable Power Conversion Topologies

The optimal choice of power conversion topology thus emerges from a careful alignment of grid compliance requirements and electrolyser characteristics. Therefore, VONK’s NEYA-labeled power supplies are available in multiple standard topologies. We take these and integrate them to project- or customer specific requirements. Our deep knowledge of the application, experiences in several demanding industries and adaptable organization have enabled us to establish ourselves as the leading manufacturer of power supplies for large scale electrolysis in Europe.

The Future Landscape: Flexibility and Adaptability

Looking ahead, the power conversion landscape is set for continuous innovation. Evolving and ever tightening grid requirements and changing electrolyser characteristics will require innovations in power conversion solutions. These innovations will include emerging technologies, such as advanced control algorithms and modular converter architectures, necessary for increased adaptability and flexibility as needed for dynamic operation, fault-ride-through and active control of reactive power behavior. VONK is determined to stay the Power Supply manufacturer of choice for leading OEM’s and constructors of large-scale electrolysis facilities and the combination of incremental improvements and structural technology development are key to achieve this.