• A joint proposal by four European firms to the EU envisages setting up a 2 GW annual production solar PV module manufacturing facility in Europe
  • It will enable more than 10 GW of installed PV capacity which will be used to produce 100% renewable hydrogen
  • Hydrogenics, Meyer Burger, Ecosolifer and European Energy’s proposal claims this will lead to the production of around 800,000 tonnes of renewable hydrogen over eight years
  • This renewable hydrogen will be transported through gas pipelines to hard-to-decarbonize industries as steel and chemicals
  • The Silver Frog proposal will seek EU’s financial support under IPCEI which will make final selections in 2020

Four European companies have proposed to set up a ‘cutting-edge’ solar PV module manufacturing facility in Europe with 2 GW of annual production capacity with an aim to provide over 10 GW of installed PV capacity for the production of 100% renewable hydrogen. Wind power is also part of the plan as per the proposal.

The hydrogen produced will be transported by gas pipelines to hard-to-decarbonize industries as steel and chemicals. The joint proposal expects the project to produce around 800,000 tons of renewable hydrogen over a period of eight years and contribute to taking away 8 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, that’s equal to the CO2 footprint of Belgium’s capital Brussels. What’s more, such a project if implemented may create a minimum of 6,000 jobs.

The Silver Frog project proposal has been put forward by Belgium’s hydrogen and fuel cell company Hydrogenics, Swiss PV equipment maker Meyer Burger, Hungarian module manufacturer Ecosolifer and Danish renewable energy developer European Energy A/S with the support of European solar sector association SolarPower Europe, which had initiated the project. The four companies made this joint proposal for the European Union’s (EU) Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI), at the Hydrogen for Climate Conference.

According to the proposal, Hydrogenics will supply water electrolysis technology with Meyer Burger providing its high-efficiency heterojunction (HJT) technology PV manufacturing line, Ecosolifer producing HJT cells/modules, and finally European Energy acting as the developer.

The crucial element of our project is to develop a new European manufacturing capacity for solar PV cells and modules. The new technology has been developed in Europe and has the potential to establish sustainable and globally-competitive solar cell and module production thanks to its very high efficiency,” said Thomas Hengst, Head of Global Sales at Meyer Burger. “By focusing on the production and transportation of renewable hydrogen, we can address existing and future demand, as well as offering the concept as an integrated solution.”

The proposal will seek financial support from the EU under IPCEI which will make final selections from the ## applications in 2020. The notion of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI) is laid down in Art. 107(3)(b) TFEU as part of the State aid rules. An IPCEI is a specific possibility to find aid compatible with the internal market.

The IPCEI on hydrogen includes eight ambitious proposals, all of which aim to develop the hydrogen sector, with projects surrounding the generation, transportation, and innovation of green hydrogen. The final selection for the IPCEI will take place in 2020.

Europe’s solar industry has been making efforts to build a consensus and bring together resources to kickstart domestic production of solar modules. In August 2019, a Fraunhofer ISE study commissioned by VDMA claimed that Europe could produce its own solar cells competitively with a 5 GW annual integrated production capacity for over €1 billion investment (see Europe Can Host 5 GW Annual Solar Production Fab).

There has been a growing interest in hydrogen production around the globe – in particular Australia has been active in the regard as of recently.  (see Another RE Powered Hydrogen Project In Australia).