Fusion-Fuel – Powering the Future
Fusion-Fuel, one of the emerging leaders in the green hydrogen space, is changing the hydrogen game.
Fusion-Fuel’s mission is to offer innovative green hydrogen solutions that accelerate the transformation of the global energy sector and enable a sustainable reduction of carbon emissions.
The company started to operate as an independent business just recently. “As part of a large industrial group, we began to tackle the challenge of efficient and cost-effective production of green hydrogen in 2018. It took us three years to come up with our revolutionary product,” says Fusion-Fuel’s CFO Frederico Figueira de Chaves.
He explains that prohibitively high production costs have historically made green hydrogen commercially unviable. In order to solve this challenge, the Fusion-Fuel team broke with convention and took a fundamentally different approach from the rest of the industry.
Rather than focusing on ever-larger electrolysers, they developed the concept of a miniaturized and decentralized design, which required completely rethinking the materials used, production methodology, and system architecture.
The solution is the HEVO, Fusion-Fuel’s proprietary miniaturized PEM electrolyser. It has been specifically designed to be small, lightweight and, critically, capable of mass production. Its simplicity allows it to be versatile in use. It can be combined with high-efficiency solar cells and attached to a specifically designed concentrated photovoltaic solar panel to directly leverage the sun’s energy to deliver highly competitive green hydrogen.
“With the HEVO, we have not only significantly reduced costs but also increased the efficiency of the system which is an extra bonus. The CAPEX required per unit is around one-third of that of our competitors,” notes Mr Chaves.
He points out that although Fusion-Fuel is a very young company, it draws on the extensive expertise of its team as well as the resources of its sister company, the solar panel producer – together, they have launched an integrated HEVO-SOLAR unit, a combination of HEVO electrolysers with a specially-designed high efficiency concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) solar module, a solution designed to make optimal use of both the electrical and thermal energy from the sun.
“The combination of HEVO with a high-efficiency concentrated photovoltaic solar solution, designed to use both the electrical and thermal energy from solar radiation, enables us to uncouple hydrogen production from the grid,” says Mr Chaves.
Tailored to Needs
“We are the only company offering an electrolyser with an integrated solar panel to produce energy and hydrogen all in a single system. Another advantage is its modularity, so the customer can adjust the system to their evolving needs,” Mr Chaves explains. “It is the only product in the market that can be decentralised and modular.”
Fusion-Fuel is now developing a Green Hydrogen Utility Scale Demonstrator, the GreenGas project, in the Evora region of Portugal – an ideal location due to high levels of solar irradiation. The project is expected to go live in the first half of 2021 and will be Portugal’s first large scale solar-to-hydrogen plant.
Fusion-Fuel aims to produce 600 HEVO-SOLAR units in 2021 to be installed in several projects, the purpose and scale of which differ significantly, says Mr Chaves. “The applications range from Spain’s first hydrogen refuelling stations to a green ammonia production project in the southern part of Morocco, the scales of which, in terms of the volume of hydrogen produced, are completely different. The technology is the same, but the modularity allows employment for different purposes.”
The hydrogen landscape has changed dramatically over the last twelve months, with sharply increasing interest in green hydrogen projects in the power utility, refining, ammonia, e-fuels, and commercial transport sectors.
“There are a lot of discussions about hydrogen in relation to the future of transport, but hydrogen is already a big market today, 90% of which is shared by two industries – oil refining and ammonia production. Decarbonising these industries is critical; 9 tonnes of CO2 is generated to produce 1 tonne of grey hydrogen per year – this really needs to be cleaned up,” affirms Mr Chaves.
He explains that conventional production of hydrogen is highly carbon-intensive, producing between 9-20 kg of CO2 per kilogram of hydrogen. Emissions-free hydrogen (Green Hydrogen) can be produced through electrolysis, but at costs generally 3-5x that of conventional hydrogen production. As a result, only ~2% of hydrogen today is produced through electrolysis, and only 0.1% of total hydrogen produced is Green Hydrogen.
“Today a lot of the interest in our solution comes from the oil refining and ammonia industries. We are in a special position as we are one of the few that can offer these industries a financially viable solution,” Mr Chaves acknowledges.
Increasing demand from industry, under pressure to reduce carbon emissions, indicates that Fusion-Fuel’s solution meets a critical market need. To better accommodate this need, Fusion-Fuel plans to establish its own industrialized and automated production line during 2021, a key step to its growth strategy. Production plant development is expected to start during the summer of 2021 to be able to meet the required product supply planned for 2022.
Expanding the Reach
“We are focused on two key objectives – the first one is to reach the markets that can benefit from our technology beyond southern Europe. These would include the US, Australia, the Middle East and Chile,” says Mr Chaves.
The first step would be to set up small demonstration plants in those regions, he further points out, and the company seems to be progressing quickly towards that goal. In May, Fusion-Fuel partnered with CCC in the Middle East and with Ampol in Australia to develop green hydrogen demonstrator plants in those regions. The companies have agreed to cooperate on projects involving the production of green hydrogen for potential clients in the refining and petrochemical industries in order to reduce their carbon footprint.
The announcement of the partnerships came shortly after Fusion-Fuel reached a collaboration agreement with the Elecnor Group for the development of green hydrogen projects in Spain using Fusion-Fuel’s HEVO-SOLAR technology, another of a fast-expanding list of projects.
“The other objective relates to technology,” adds Mr Chaves. “While we offer a single product today, over the next few years we hope to become a multi-product company. To summarise, our growth plans relate to both our regional focus and our product offering.”