Opening of the hydrogen production plant of the Kubel power plant



Inauguration of the hydrogen production plant at the Kubel power plant.

A pioneering project becomes reality. A little over a year after the first groundbreaking, the production of green hydrogen will start at St. Gallen Kubel.

This is made possible by a unique cross-industry cooperation between SAK (St.Gallisch-Appenzellische Kraftwerke AG), the Osterwalder Group and SN Erneuerbare Energie AG (SNEE), who combine their strengths and know-how in the joint venture Wasserstoffproduktion Ostschweiz AG (WPO).

Along with Vice-President of St. Gallen Marc Mächler and Susanne Hartmann, member of the cantonal government and head of the construction department of the canton of St. Gallen, the stakeholders highlighted the importance of green hydrogen for the energy transition, for the electromobility of the future and for the canton of St. Gallen.

Experts agree: green hydrogen is one of the most important energy sources of the future for efficiently and safely storing electricity from renewable sources. With the opening of the Kubel production site in St. Gallen, the players are sending an even stronger signal for the further expansion of a globally respected hydrogen ecosystem, which is already a reality in Swiss.

The background: With the establishment of Wasserstoffproduktion Ostschweiz AG in September 2019, SAK, the Osterwalder Group and, since July 2022, SN Erneuerbare Energie AG (SNEE) have jointly invested in the construction of the Kubel production site in order to offer green hydrogen as a renewable energy source. and clean energy for electromobility and for the decarbonisation of road transport.

14 months after the groundbreaking ceremony, the big moment of commissioning will follow on November 17, 2022.

The importance of this installation for the St. Gallen site was underlined, among others, by Marc Mächler, vice-president and head of the finance department of the canton of St. Gallen, and Susanne Hartmann, member of the cantonal government, head of the Construction Department of the Canton of St. Gallen & Member of the Board of Directors of SAK.

Marc Machlerthe vice-president of St. Gallen said:

Hydrogen plays an important role in the conversion and expansion towards renewable energies.

“It is therefore all the more gratifying that pioneering projects such as the Swiss hydrogen ecosystem are not only planned, but also implemented. For the canton of St. Gallen, this is more than a signal. This is part of the many measures to promote renewable energies in all areas.

Susanne Hartmanmember of the cantonal government and head of the construction department of the canton of St. Gallen said:

The sun, wind and water provide renewable energy in abundance, but as a kind of “fresh product” which must be temporarily stored.

“With the use and expansion of renewable energy, as it is anchored in St. Gallen as priority planning for the years 2021 to 2031, we are also dependent on the possibility of storing and distributing energy. The implementation of this project makes an equally important contribution to reducing the use of fossil fuels and thus also CO2 emissions in the canton of St. Gallen.

A milestone for the Swiss hydrogen ecosystem

For about two years, a globally respected hydrogen ecosystem has emerged in Switzerland with the aim of implementing hydrogen electromobility and thus also the decarbonisation of road transport from source to consumer – from production stations and filler to passenger cars and heavy goods vehicles that are already on Swiss roads.

With the commissioning of hydrogen production, SAK, as the operator of Switzerland’s oldest water-storage power plant in the St.Gallen Kubel, is sending an equally important signal for the energy transition and the need to steer sustainable electricity generation into the future.

Walter T. Vogel, Chairman of the Board of Directors of SAK, said:

Hydrogen production optimally complements SAK’s portfolio.

“As an energy service provider for the inhabitants of eastern Switzerland, we are already committed to the expansion of hydroelectric and solar energy as well as the expansion of sustainable heat pump systems and e -mobility. With H2, we now also have an offer that accompanies the decarbonization of heavy goods transport.

Adriano Tramer, SAK Production and Energy Solutions Manager:

SAK has been investing for many years in the future markets of the energy transition in eastern Switzerland.

“With the new hydrogen production plant in Kubel, we are turning our responsibility for the future of energy production and the energy transition into reality – today and not tomorrow. This pioneering role allows us to gain valuable practical experience for a promising energy source. However, the plant also demonstrates the innovative strength with which SAK makes renewable energies usable.

The new production plant – one of the first in Switzerland – draws electricity directly from the adjacent hydroelectric power station and thus produces CO2-neutral hydrogen from hydropower.

The electrolysis plant has a production rate of 36 kg of hydrogen per hour and an electrical power of 2 MW. Depending on the amount of electricity available for the production of H2, around 250 tons of green hydrogen are produced each year. This means that three to four containers of hydrogen can be delivered daily to Osterwalder Group filling stations and other locations.

Energy storage with green hydrogen

Green hydrogen offers great potential in the storage of renewable energies. This advantage allows the production of hydrogen in coordination with the injection into the SAK network. In this way, the production of hydrogen also contributes to the stabilization of the network.

Renewable energies for electromobility of today and tomorrow

The green hydrogen produced in the Kubel is used directly for fuel cell powered passenger cars and heavy duty vehicles. Hyundai Hydrogen Mobility (HHM) proves the reliability of these on the road in Switzerland with 47 XCIENT Fuel Cells (36-ton trailer trains) and more than 5 million kilometers traveled over the past two years. Compared to diesel trucks, they saved more than 4,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Martin Osterwalder, CEO of Wasserstoff-Produktion Ostschweiz AG and co-CEO of the Osterwalder Group:

The Kubel power plant allows the further expansion of the Swiss hydrogen ecosystem, with a very efficient local cycle.

“We transport the green hydrogen with a “made in Switzerland” container system to the two AVIA hydrogen filling stations in St. Gallen and Gossau, where the hydrogen vehicles are refueled. For the Osterwalder Group, this is an important step towards providing clean electricity exactly when customers need it in the new era of electromobility. With green hydrogen, this is already a reality today.

In Switzerland, the Hydrospider in Niedergösgen and – now – the WPO in the Kubel in St. Gallen are currently producing green hydrogen for electromobility. Thanks to the initiative of the H2 Mobility Switzerland association, fuel cell trucks and cars can already be supplied with green hydrogen at twelve public filling stations spread throughout the territory.

The production volume of the Kubel offers capacities of approximately 3.5 million kilometers in a truck or up to 25 million kilometers in a hydrogen car. With the Hyundai NEXO and the Toyota Mirai, an SUV and a sedan with this form of electric drive are already available in Switzerland.

In addition, two other manufacturers, Opel and Renault (Hyvia), are about to introduce light commercial vehicles also powered by fuel cell electric propulsion.

Nationally anchored, internationally active

While a clean hydrogen ecosystem for mobility is being built in Switzerland on a private basis, SNEE, as a 100% subsidiary of SN Energie AG and shareholder of Wasserstoff-Produktion Ostschweiz AG, opens up prospects far beyond of the border.

Hans Hoffstetter, Chairman of the SNEE Board of Directors:

With a focus on renewable energies from wind and photovoltaic sources as well as power-to-X technologies, we count the production of green hydrogen among the key technologies of the energy transition.

“Also from a more global point of view, we see the opening of the Kubel production plant as an important signal for all power plants to take this innovative path and make greater use of available natural energy sources. We know that nature provides energy in abundance. With the Kubel system we can show how this power can be used and protected in equal measure. »

Inauguration of the hydrogen production plant at the Kubel power plant, November 17, 2022

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