Renewable Electrolysis System Development: Cooperative Research and Development Final Report, CRADA Number CRD-16-00645

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Renewable hydrogen is becoming globally recognized as a key component required for de-carbonization of our energy system, both as a medium for capture of excess renewable energy sources, vehicle refueling, and as an intermediate for multiple industrial processes. Hydrogen production, via low-temperature electrolysis, is a flexible grid-friendly, clean energy carrying intermediate that enables fast ramp and de-ramp rates as naturally varying solar, wind, and storage systems become a larger percentage of the electricity mix. Analysis shows that by 2050, employing renewable hydrogen at scale can decrease total U.S. CO2 emissions by about half relative to business as usual, critical to achieving >80% greenhouse gas reduction targets. Energy storage systems help commercial customers reduce their electric bills by storing energy from the grid or from renewable electricity sources when energy is inexpensive, then using that stored energy when demand and prices are high. Proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis is one of the few technologies that can produce hydrogen with zero carbon emissions at relevant scale (hundreds of MWs) in the near term. NREL's research has shown that electrolyzers are fast and flexible enough to participate in energy and ancillary service markets that can help stabilize the grid. In 2015, Proton OnSite (now NEL Hydrogen) introduced the M-series electrolyzer platform, the world's first megawatt PEM electrolyzer for the global energy storage market, offering a carbon-free source of hydrogen fuel or process gas. In addition, the ability to sell the hydrogen into a high value application like vehicle (e.g., light- and heavy-duty and material handling) fueling allows for a layering of revenue streams that creates better business cases for hydrogen energy storage systems (HES). The ability to provide multiple value streams from the fast-responding controllable electrolyzer will have a direct impact on the net cost of hydrogen.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
StatePublished - 2023

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5900-87321


  • power conversion
  • water electrolyzer


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