ABB has joined forces with Swiss utility Axpo to develop modular green hydrogen production plants in Italy aimed at creating an optimum operating model to produce affordable, green hydrogen.

The two companies will apply their expertise to achieve their joint vision of more affordable green hydrogen, with ABB harnessing its automation, electrification, and digital leadership in industrial operations and Axpo’s experience as an established energy provider. 

Initial work will include feasibility studies that explore ways to reduce operating costs and ensure a low carbon footprint, with the aim of identifying synergies that will support the standardisation, modularization, efficient and flexible production of green hydrogen. 

Cost of production currently is a major barrier to adoption of green hydrogen, which is produced solely from renewable sources, maing it approximately six times more expensive today than ‘grey’ hydrogen to produce and between two to three times more expensive than hybrid ‘blue’ hydrogen, both of which are produced using fossil fuels as an energy source. 

Peter Terwiesch, president of ABB’s Process Automation business area said: “In this project, our aim is to leverage our automation, electrical and digital technologies and domain expertise to minimise the total cost of producing green hydrogen, which includes reducing the cost of running the plant. This is essential to unlock the potential of green hydrogen and enable its widespread uptake in the future.”

Axpo Italia’s head of Origination & Business Development, Simone Rodolfi, commented: "We are fully committed to exploring the potential of green hydrogen as part of our strategy to facilitate the energy transition. There has been much collaboration between Axpo and ABB in recent years and today's agreement reinforces that relationship, enabling both companies to become important players in this promising segment.”

This project reflects a wider initiative from ABB which is joining forces with customers and partners to explore opportunities and technologies to build a resilient hydrogen ecosystem for a low carbon future. In addition to the collaboration with Axpo, ABB is working with Lhyfe, to install control solutions to automate production of its first green hydrogen project in France.

In the Asia–Pacific region, ABB is supporting the Hydrogen Energy Supply Chain (HESC) project which aims to produce hydrogen safely and efficiently in Australia and then transport it to Japan, in one of the world’s first efforts to commercialise hydrogen liquefaction and transportation. 

The company is also working with Hydrogen Optimized to develop an integrated solution that supports the use of high current water electrolysis technology in large scale green hydrogen production systems for application across chemical, utility and transportation sectors.