ULC-Energy has signed an agreement with Topsoe and Rolls-Royce SMR to jointly investigate the production of hydrogen using Topsoe’s Solid Oxide Electrolysis Cell (SOEC) technology and both electricity and heat produced from a Rolls-Royce SMR nuclear power plant.
Nuclear energy combined with SOEC technology has the potential to produce clean hydrogen more cheaply than alternative electrolysis processes because:
- The electrolysis takes place at a high temperature, which means that less electricity is needed to produce hydrogen.
- The nuclear power plants can produce energy on average up to 95% of the time, significantly higher than alternative variable energy sources.
- Nuclear energy can supply heat as well as electricity. By using heat directly, energy losses in the steam turbine can be avoided thus increasing the effective energy capacity of the nuclear power plant above its electric power rating.
Furthermore, the Rolls-Royce SMR nuclear power plant can, when required, switch to deliver power to the grid, providing back-up to variable power sources when these sources are not available. This is expected to be a competitive solution compared to alternatives, like long duration energy storage solutions or hydrogen combustion for electricity generation. The joint investigation will include a valuation of the operational flexibility of the Rolls-Royce SMR/Topsoe SOEC combination in the future green energy market.
Dirk Rabelink, CEO of ULC-Energy said:
“Hydrogen will play an increasingly important role in balancing future energy markets. We expect nuclear energy, especially in combination with high temperature electrolysis, to be able to produce zero-emission hydrogen competitively on a stand-alone basis. Additional value associated with the operational flexibility will further enhance the business case for this solution. We are particularly pleased that this study has been made possible by the support from a number of national and international companies.”
Jack H. Carstensen, Business Development Director, Topsoe said:
“At Topsoe we are excited to be part of this study demonstrating the synergy between Topsoe’s SOEC technology and nuclear. SOEC is a modular design that leverages high-temperature electrolysis that enables industrial-scale production of clean hydrogen using clean energy. Due to the nature of the intrinsic fast-reaction kinetics and optimized conductivity found in high-temperature electrolysis, Topsoe’s SOEC technology produces more hydrogen per total power input when compared to the alternatives of alkaline and PEM electrolysis. Additionally, when coupled with a heat-producing technology such as nuclear, SOEC allows for the lowest levelized hydrogen cost with the highest level of energy efficiency.”
Harry Keeling, Rolls-Royce SMR’s Head of Industrial Markets, said:
“The production of low-cost hydrogen is a critical step on the pathway to decarbonising our wider society. This agreement with ULC-Energy and Topsoe is an exciting step toward unleashing the potential of the Rolls-Royce SMR as its ability to flexibly provide thermal and electrical energy supports a wide range of industrial applications, chief amongst these being the large-scale generation of low-cost hydrogen.”
ULC-Energy is a nuclear energy development and consultancy company, established in 2021 in The Netherlands and based in Amsterdam. ULC-Energy’s mission is to accelerate decarbonisation in the Netherlands by developing nuclear energy projects that efficiently integrate in residential and industrial energy networks. In August 2022, ULC-Energy selected the Rolls Royce SMR as its nuclear technology solution.
Topsoe is a global leader in energy-efficient technologies to produce clean transportation fuels as well as ammonia, methanol and hydrogen that are universally seen as the most important fuels and chemicals of the future. Its strategic vision is to be recognized as the global leader in carbon emission reduction technologies by 2024. Topsoe has developed its own proprietary SOEC technology.
About Rolls-Royce SMR
Rolls-Royce SMR uses established nuclear technology and know-how to offer a low cost, deliverable, global & scalable and investable solution, that can be rolled out around the world. The company is majority owned by Rolls-Royce PLC. Rolls-Royce SMR is a 470 MW pressurised water reactor that is manufactured in modules in central factories that are assembled under a turnkey contract on the customer site. The design has successfully completed step 1 of the UK Generic Design Assessment and is currently progressing with step 2.