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Rolls-Royce enters hydrogen market

Rolls-Royce is entering the hydrogen production market and acquiring a 54 per cent majority stake in electrolysis stack specialist Hoeller Electrolyzer.

Rolls-Royce‘s new mtu hydrogen electrolysers will be based on technology developed from Hoeller’s Power Systems division.

Hoeller Electrolyzer, based in Wismar, Germany, is an early-stage technology company that is developing highly efficient polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) stacks, under the brand name Prometheus, for the cost-effective production of hydrogen.

Hydrogen is an increasingly attractive power source to fuel the green energy transition and demand for ‘green’ hydrogen – whose production creates no CO2 – is expected to rise significantly.

“By developing our own mtu electrolyzers and by taking a majority stake in Hoeller Electrolyzers, we are methodically growing our hydrogen portfolio and securing access to this fascinating technology, which is not a pipe dream but has great market potential,” says Rolls-Royce Power Systems COO and CTO, Dr. Otto Preiss. “This will enable us to supply complete hydrogen solutions and make a significant contribution to protecting the climate. Our complete hydrogen solutions will enable customers to store renewably produced energy in the form of hydrogen for use as and when required, or for further processing or onward sale.”

In 2021, MIN reported that Rolls-Royce confirmed it would launch a range of sustainable solutions for yachts by 2023, including mtu hybrid solutions and mtu yacht engines certified for sustainable fuels.

Rolls-Royce’s first mtu electrolyzer will go into demonstrator operation in 2023. An initial customer project is planned for 2024

Founded in 2016, Hoeller Electrolyzer has positioned itself, with Prometheus, as one of the few highly specialised expert players in the field of high-efficiency PEM electrolysis stacks.

Stefan Höller, Managing Director, Hoeller Electrolyzer, says: “Our stack is going to produce hydrogen at a price not previously thought possible.”

Matthias Kramer, CFO and Joint Managing Director of Hoeller Electrolyzer, adds: “In Rolls-Royce, not only have we found an important customer for our stacks, we’ve also secured an ideal partner and supporter who shares our vision of putting stacks into full production.”

Development work on the first mtu electrolyzer using a stack from Hoeller Electrolyzer is already underway. In 2023, it will go into operation at the Validation Centre in Friedrichshafen to demonstrate how an electrolyzer fits into the overall architecture of a microgrid. An initial customer project is already planned for 2024.

Armin Fürderer, who heads up the Net Zero Solutions business unit of Power Systems, says: “We’re going to launch electrolyzers with several megawatts of power right from the start. A total output of over 100 megawatts is conceivable by combining several electrolyzers.”

The equity in Hoeller Electrolyzer now held by Rolls-Royce comes from departing minority shareholders and from an increase in share capital. Financial details of the transaction are not being disclosed.