Assessment of the current role of electrolysers in the provision of grid services


Check out the latest report on electrolysers providing grid services. Developments in key grid services markets were analysed and the capabilities of competing technologies to provide these services were evaluated. See below the executive summary or access the the entire report here.

Role of grid services for the roll out of green hydrogen

  • Grid service provision could reduce the cost of hydrogen by up to 10%
  • Grid services are likely to play a transitory role in the roll out of electrolysers as markets for these services are shallow and get saturated quickly.


Key grid services which electrolysers can provide

  • Key grid services relevant for electrolysers are balancing services procured by the Transmission System Operator ( TSO ) and internal load balancing at large industrial sites.
  • Balancing services can be divided into Frequency Containment Reserve (FCR), automated and manual Frequency Restoration Reserve ( aFRR and mFRR ), and Replacement Reserve (RR). These differ by the full activation time , the time by which the contracted capacity can be fully activated after a signal from the TSO. Installing an electrolyser for internal load balancing can help industrial sites to reduce grid fees as well as imbalance charges.


Developments in key grid services markets

  • Batteries have started to dominate some markets for balancing services , especially those with short activation times. This trend is expected to continue due to batteries’ low cost of providing such services which will make it very challenging for electrolysers to compete in these markets.
  • Harmonisation and integration of balancing markets across European countries is progressing but some differences in products and procurement processes currently remain. Congestion management has become a major cost component of system operation due to renewable expansion.
  • Local flexibility markets run by Distribution System Operators ( DSOs ) can contribute to cost efficient congestion management and could potentially provide attractive revenue opportunities.
  • But these markets are only starting to emerge and still immature.


Technical requirements of grid services

  • Standard test protocols have been developed in the Qualygrids project which could allow electrolysers to be prequalified for balancing provision in a wide range of European countries.
  • If integrated in international standards and widely adopted, such protocols could guide manufacturers in development of electrolyser design and capabilities.


Technical capabilities of electrolysers

  • PEM as well as alkaline electrolysers have the technical capabilities to provide balancing services (FCR, aFRR , mFRR , and RR) provided they are equipped with appropriate controlling technology.
  • PEM electrolysers have been shown to be capable to provide internal load balancing.


Current role of electrolysers in grid services markets

  • Currently electrolysers don’t play a tangible role in grid services markets.
  • Projects in which electrolysers are providing or planning to provide balancing services in a commercial setting are only starting to emerge , the most prominent being HyBalance, H2Future, REFHYNE, and Demo4Grid.
  • The capacity of these electrolysers is small compared to the demand for grid services, e.g. the REFHYNE electrolyser’s capacity represents less than 2% of the demand for FCR in Germany.
  • Electrolysers in the HyBalance and H2Future projects have been prequalified by the TSO for all types of balancing services and are currently participating in balancing markets in Denmark and Austria, respectively.
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