Watch: Concentrated solar power supports hydrogen fuel production


“Green” hydrogen is the production of hydrogen fuel using renewable energy resources. Two companies said they successfully produced green hydrogen at a recent demonstration in California.

Heliogen supplied concentrated solar power (CSP) to power the operation, and Bloom Energy used its electrolyzer to produce hydrogen fuel. 

Heliogen said its AI-powered CSP technology is able to generate for longer periods of time than solar PV, operating on a near 24/7 basis by storing the solar energy. Heliogen said this results in more compact design and lower costs in production. The company said the demonstration is a step towards replacing fossil fuels with green hydrogen in commercial and industrial applications.

Bloom Energy’s electrolyzer (foreground) and Heliogen’s CSP tower (background).
Image: Heliogen

Image: Heliogen

Heliogen’s CSP creates heat, steam, and electricity from concentrated sunlight. It was paired with Bloom’s solid-oxide, high-temperature electrolyzer to make the fuel. The company said hydrogen can be made 45% more efficiently than low-temperature PEM and alkaline electrolyzers.

Electricity dictates nearly 80% of the cost of hydrogen from electrolysis. The CSP method reduces the need for electricity, using heat to aid its operations.

Hydrogen is expected to grow from an annual 115 million metric tons to 500-800 million metric tons by 2050, which would represent 15 to 20 percent of global energy demand. Over $300 billion has been invested in hydrogen up and down the value chain, and McKinsey & Company project about $150 billion of that investment has gone directly towards production.

The successful green hydrogen production is a step towards decarbonizing industrial processes, which account for more than one-third of the world’s energy consumption, and a quarter of global carbon emissions.

The companies said this demonstration is an important step towards making CSP-backed hydrogen production cost-competitive with solar PV.

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