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EHN undertakes an innovative research project to produce hydrogen from wind power


The experiment will reproduce the characteristics of the electricity generated in a wind farm to analyse its effect in an electrolyser, which produces hydrogen and oxygen from water.

An experimental laboratory has been installed in the Universidad Pública de Navarra to carry out the research.

Pamplona, 12 august 2004

Corporación Energía Hidroeléctrica de Navarra (EHN) has begun a research project in the Universidad Pública de Navarra (UPNA) with the aim of obtaining hydrogen from water through electricity generated from wind power. This experiment, a novel one at world level, represents the first step towards the clean and competitive production of a fuel that is destined to play a key role in the future sustainable energy model.

The project consists of simulating the electric power generation conditions of a wind farm in a laboratory and analysing the effects in an electrolyser, a device that generates hydrogen and oxygen from water through the application of electricity. The data obtained will enable the design of wind turbines and electrolysers specifically destined for the production of hydrogen with maximum efficiency.

The initiative comes under the collaboration agreement signed on 9 October 2003 in Hamburg between EHN, Stuart Energy Systems Corporation (a leading Canadian group in the field of hydrogen technologies) and Statkraft SF (the largest electricity company in Norway). The projects sets out to evaluate, demonstrate and implement energy solutions based on hydrogen generated from renewable energy sources.

Location: Universidad Pública de Navarra

EHN commissioned the project to the Universidad Pública de Navarra, on whose premises the installation of the required technical equipment was completed last Friday (6th August). The equipment includes an electrolyser –supplied by Stuart Energy- with rated power of 5 kW and a production capacity of 1 standard cubic meter of hydrogen per hour.

The project also includes a 10 kW electronic converter with current control and microprocessor-supervised operation, developed by the UPNA. This converter will feed the electrolyser with voltage and current similar to the levels produced on a wind farm, under all kinds of operating conditions.

The project has been conceived and designed by technical experts from EHN (Carlos Itoiz, Eugenio Guelbenzu and Alfonso Ezquerro) in collaboration with a research team from the UPNA headed by Pedro Diéguez, a professor of the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Energy and Materials of the UPNA, and professors Luis Gandía (Dept. of Applied Chemistry), who is responsible for the chemical component, and Pablo Sanchís and Alfredo Ursúa (Dept. of Electrical and Electronic Engineering), in charge of the electrical and electronic aspects of the project.

The experiment, which will run for several months with a budget of 180,000 euros for its initial phase, will have continuity in later phases. These will cover the use of hydrogen in public transport buses in the city of Pamplona and a wind turbine designed specifically for the production of hydrogen.

Zero emissions based on renewable energy sources

Hydrogen is not an energy source as such, rather a vector (transporter) of energy that enables its storage, transport and use. Used through fuel cell technology –which generates electricity from oxygen and hydrogen- hydrogen does not produce polluting emissions nor does it contribute to global warming, because it only emits water vapour in the process of energy conversion.

However, the hydrogen obtained from renewable energies can guarantee a product with zero emissions throughout the production cycle on its own. For this reason hydrogen is considered by a number of experts as the ideal 'bridge' to make the transition from fossil fuels –based on coal, oil and gas- to another sustainable model based on the use of clean energies.

In this sense, the High Level Group for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells -a committee of experts, companies and other involved agents set up by the European Commission- states in its Final Report (2003) that “electricity and hydrogen together represent one of the most promising ways to achieve [...] an emissions-free future based on sustainable energy” and adds that “renewable energy sources will become the most important source for the production of hydrogen”.

The European Union, Japan and the United States –which has committed public investment of 190 million dollars to this field over five years- consider hydrogen to be a key technology in the energy model of the 21st Century.

For more information EHN Dept. of Communication Tel. +34 948 212653 José Arrieta [email protected] Santiago Gómez [email protected]


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