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PKP Energetyka is developing an innovative energy storage system based on “green” hydrogen

As part of the research and development project, an energy storage system based on hydrogen produced using energy from a solar farm will be built at the Garbce traction power substation.

PKP Energetyka is developing an innovative energy storage system based on “green” hydrogen

This is another step towards the development of a railroad based on renewable energy sources. PKP Energetyka has just signed a contract with a supplier of a set of components for the construction of this hydrogen system. The commissioning of this facility is scheduled for 2023.

Pioneering system for the production and storage of “green” hydrogen for the railroad
The investment worth over PLN 3 million will allow producing, storing and using “green” hydrogen for railroad purposes. What is significant is the fact that 100% of the element produced will be obtained by electrolysis powered by solar energy. The facility under construction as part of the R&D project is designed to corroborate the feasibility of using hydrogen storage solutions for powering railroads in the future.

The purpose of the system is to store all the energy produced by the solar farm and not used for current traction purposes. The hydrogen-based energy production and storage system will consist of an electrolyser that converts energy harvested from the sun into hydrogen, a hydrogen storage system, and a fuel cell that converts the hydrogen back into electricity.

According to the schedule, next year PKP Energetyka will be the first company in Poland to actually use this pioneering system of supplying the railroad with energy based on hydrogen from RES. It will allow up to 23 kg of hydrogen to be stored at one time with the power outputs of the individual components determined at 36 kW for the electrolyser, 20 kW for the fuel cell capacity, and about 150 kWp for the solar farm.

The produced element will be used in the development and research phase for PKP Energetyka’s own purposes, i.e. to supply the traction substation, but the solution implemented in the future will also have the possibility of powering the traction system. The technical design of the system also allows for disconnecting the filled hydrogen cylinders, so it can be used, for example, to power railroad vehicles of PKP Energetyka.

“At PKP Energetyka, we consistently put into practice our mission of “We Energize Polish Rail”. Our industry is currently undergoing an energy transition that we are pursuing primarily through the Green Rail programme. Its goal is to switch 85% of the railroad’s power supply to RES by 2030. Ultimately, we want the remaining 15% to be “green” as well, which is why we are successively investing in modern research and development solutions that bring us closer to this goal” says Piotr Obrycki, Director of the Research and Development Office, PKP Energetyka.

Modern and multifunctional traction power substation in Garbce
The implemented hydrogen system will be an important component of the traction power substation in Garbce. Together with the existing battery energy storage solution and the photovoltaic farm, it will create a unique ecosystem of interconnected and complementary facilities to generate and deliver dedicated energy for the railroad.

As a result of this project, a modern and multifunctional traction power substation will be built, which will not only guarantee the safety and stability of the railroad power supply system but will also be environmentally friendly thanks to the production of “green” hydrogen.

Component set supplier
The hydrogen production and storage system will be built in cooperation with SBB ENERGY S.A. from Opole selected in the tender procedure. For 30 years, the company has been operating in the power and industrial sectors, providing services in the field of commissioning, mechanical assembly, electrical as well as Control and Measurement Instruments and Automation installations both in Poland and worldwide.

In addition, SBB ENERGY S.A. provides a range of modern technologies in the field of environmental protection. It gained experience in the implementation of turnkey investment projects involving production, storage and use of “green” hydrogen technologies through the implementation of the pioneering project “Construction of a high-efficiency trigeneration unit with a total nominal electrical power up to 1.0 MW” for the Energy Cluster Oława EKO in Gaj Oławski.

EU funding
The tender procedure was carried out within the framework of the project “System of dynamic reduction of traction substation load, operating with the use of high power storage”. The project is implemented under Activity 1.2: “Sectoral R&D Programmes” of the Smart Growth Operational Programme 2014-2020, co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, grant agreement number POIR.01.02.00-00-0230/16-00. The value of the investment is PLN 3,273,242.59

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