Project Description

GHS electrolyzer powers Sweden’s first hydrogen refueling station From dream to business – and business needs

March 21, 2015 was a big day for Hans-Olof Nilsson. This was day the Swedish engineer took his home off the grid – a project he’d been working on for 2 years and dreaming about since 2005.

The approximately 500 m2 (5400 sq. ft.) house has all the amenities but is powered entirely by solar energy, most of which is converted to hydrogen and stored for later use – any day of the year, all year long.

Word of the “hydrogen house” spread quickly, and Mr. Nilsson began welcoming curious visitors – thousands of the them – to the successful experiment that is his home.

Some of these visitors were ordinary people who found the idea of going off grid intriguing. Others were people who worked with energy in one way or another and were attuned to the “buzz” around hydrogen and to some of the advantages of this unique fuel and energy storage system all in one. An infinitely storable fuel that is also sustainable, as long as the electricity used to produce it comes from renewable sources like wind and sun.

One such visitor was an official from the Municipality of Mariestad, also in Sweden, where far-sighted officials were looking to replace their fleet of service vehicles to vehicles that ran on green hydrogen.

Thus were Nilsson Energy and its “RE8760” concept born. “RE” for “renewable energy” and “8760” referring to the number of hours in a year – hours you need available energy. Day and night. Spring, summer, fall and winter.

If it works, don’t fix it

When Mr. Nilsson built his off-grid house, he asked Nordic hydrogen pioneers Green Hydrogen Systems (GHS) to provide an electrolyzer for the system. The electolyzer is the key technology that uses solar power to convert water into permanently storable hydrogen fuel. The electrolyzer that powers Mr. Nilsson’s home is a small 5 kW PEM system, scaled to produce the energy it takes to power the home.

However, Mr. Nilsson explains, “the officials in Mariestad needed more power – enough to fuel the municipality’s 15 cars, plus another handful of privately owned hydrogen cars in the area. And then some – because the municipality had calculated that a fleet of hydrogen-powered vehicles would become financially competitive with traditional cars when the fleet reached 50 vehicles.” In other words, the system needed to be scalable as well.

As it turns out, scalability is one of the key advantages of the GHS concept. As system integrator, Nilsson Energy could start with a single GHS HyProvide A-60 – installed on site at the Mariestad refueling station – and then scale up by adding additional units as needed. Fifteen cars today, becomes 30 next year, 60 the year after, and so on.

GHS CEO Niels-Arne Baden notes that, in addition to scalability, the HyProvide A-Series also provides another advantage: “The A-Series isn’t just the only fully standardized, modular and scalable electrolyzer on the market. It also delivers the lowest levelized cost of hydrogen available anywhere for green hydrogen. So Nilsson Energy and their client in Mariestad are getting producing tomorrow’s green hydrogen fuel at a price much lower than hydrogen delivered in pressurized cylinders or tube trailers.”

Mr. Nilsson concurs, also noting that the hydrogen plant is located on site and powered by on-site solar panels and requiring only water as a feedstock. “So it’s an off-grid system with zero reliance on fuel or other supplies delivered by costly, high-emission truck transportation,” he explains.

“The people at GHS are just great to work with. They support us 110% – just super support and service. With GHS supplying our electrolysis, we just don’t have to worry about the station at all.”

— Hans-Olof Nilsson, Founder, Nilsson Energy

A great start – and just getting started

The hydrogen refueling station in Mariestad has been up and running since October 2019, with about 20 hydrogen cars using the station on a regular basis.

The biggest challenge Mariestad has encountered has been bureaucratic, not technical. Like in many other countries, green hydrogen has been growing faster than government regulators are able to keep up with. So the station in Mariestad has been operating on temporary permits for the simple reason that Swedish officials have not yet finalized the standards and protocols needed for permanent government authorization.

Fortunately, that has changed. The Nilsson Energy RE8760 station – powered by a GHS electrolyzer – received formal permanent approval on July 3, 2020.

As for working with Green Hydrogen Systems, Mr. Nilsson says, “The people at GHS are just great to work with. They support us 110% – just super support and service. With GHS supplying our electrolysis, we just don’t have to worry about the station at all.”

Outside Mariestad, Nilsson Energy has a number of similar facilities in the works – from Stockholm, to Jönköping, to Malmö. These are exciting times indeed for green hydrogen in Sweden.