Shell Claims One Of The World’s Largest Hydrogen Electrolyzers Is Now Operational In China

Shell announced Friday that a 20-megawatt hydrogen electrolyzer, dubbed “one of the world’s largest,” has begun operating.

The electrolyzer, which is located in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, China, will produce green hydrogen for fuel cell vehicles that will be utilized in Zhangjiakou’s competition zone during the Winter Olympics, which begin on February 4th. Commercial and public transportation will use hydrogen when the Games are over.

Shell’s integrated gas, renewable and energy solutions head, Wael Sawan, said in a statement that the electrolyzer was “the largest in our portfolio to date.”

“We see opportunities across the hydrogen supply chain in China, including its production, storage, and shipping,” Sawan said.

The plant in China is part of a joint venture between Shell China and the Zhangjiakou City Transport Construction Investment Holding Group Co. Ltd., which was founded in 2020.

Hydrogen may be manufactured in a variety of methods, and it has a wide range of applications and can be used in a variety of sectors. Electrolysis is one way, which involves breaking water into oxygen and hydrogen using an electric current.

Some refer to this process as green or renewable hydrogen if the electricity utilized in it comes from a renewable source like wind or solar. According to Shell, the electrolyzer in Zhangjiakou will be powered by onshore wind.

While some people are excited about the possibilities of green hydrogen, the vast majority of hydrogen is currently produced using fossil fuels.

Some industry leaders have recently spoken out about the challenges they believe the emerging green hydrogen sector faces. For example, the CEO of Siemens Energy stated in October 2021 that there was “no commercial case” for it at this time.

Today, a number of colors are employed to distinguish between various hydrogen production methods, including brown, blue, grey, and pink, to mention a few.

Last December, the CEO of RWE, a German energy firm, told CNBC how crucial it was to be realistic when it came to color codes.

“In the end, all hydrogen needs to be green, because green hydrogen is the only fuel which is … fully decarbonized,” Markus Krebber said.

Meanwhile, businesses have to decide whether or not to invest in new facilities and make them “H2 ready.”

“Of course, there is not enough green hydrogen available in the short term, so you need to allow them to run it first on natural gas then, maybe, on all other colors [of] hydrogen … especially blue,” he said. “But the moment green hydrogen is available, to the extent needed, they should switch to green hydrogen.”

Blue hydrogen is hydrogen created from natural gas, a fossil fuel, with the CO2 emissions absorbed and stored during the process.

One of the world’s only plants that use carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) to reduce hydrogen production emissions was discovered to generate considerably more greenhouse gas emissions than it catches earlier this month.

The Shell-owned Quest plant in Alberta, Canada, which is designed to absorb carbon emissions from oil sands operations and safely store them underground, has previously been hailed as a “thriving example” of how carbon capture and storage is helping to reduce carbon emissions.

However, according to a report issued last week by the monitoring group Global Witness, while the plant has stopped 5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide from escaping into the environment since 2015, it has also generated 7.5 million metric tonnes of greenhouse gases over the same time period.

According to the assessment, only 48% of the carbon emissions from the plant were caught. In reaction to the findings, a Shell representative told CNBC via email that Global Witness’ research was “completely incorrect,” and that the Quest facility was designed to capture roughly a third of CO2 emissions.

(Adapted from


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