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Get ready for industrial halls for NEL, a game changer in the world of hydrogen

Photo of the team: from left Skjalg Aasland, Thore Larsen, Arne J. Restad, all from Herøya Industrpark AS and Industrial Project Director Arild Berdalen

Get ready for a new energy venture at Herøya: From left: Skjalg Aasland, Vice President Facilities and Development, Thore Larsen, project coordinator and Arne J. Restad, project manager, all from Herøya Industripark AS, preparing REC’s former industrial hall so that Industrial Project Director Arild Berdalen can install and commission NEL’s first fully automated pilot system for hydrogen production in spring 2021.

“We now have to rename the ‘REC 1 and 2 buildings’ the ‘NEL buildings’,” say a happy team from Herøya Industripark AS and NEL, who are meeting up for an inspection at the industrial hall.

One renewable energy producer replaces another at Herøya Industrial Park. NEL is planning to launch a pilot system for electrolysis production next year, in 2021, in the same industrial halls where REC used to produce wafers for the solar industry.

Efficient organisation  

Arild Berdalen, Industrial Project Director at NEL, is very pleased with the efficient organisation at the industrial park.  

Photo of Arild Berdalen in the hall now getting ready for NEL

Very pleased. Arild Berdalen, Industrial Project Director i NEL.

“The building and the industrial hall suit us very well. We can find all the skills that we need in the locality, and not least we have a power supply in place. We are an energy-processing industry and need a lot of energy. We have capacity to spare here, three times the amount we need. All of this makes establishment very efficient,” says Arild Berdalen, Industrial Project Director at NEL.

 When will you be starting to install equipment?

“We are planning to start installing the production equipment in summer,” says Berdalen.

Minor adjustments

Arne J. Restad, project manager at Herøya Industripark AS, describes demolition work and minor adjustments, plus a small annex that has to be constructed.

Arne J. Restad indicating with his left hand direction of annex

13 new square metres to be constructed: – We are constructing a new building here that will accommodate three scrubbers that NEL needs,” says Arne Restad. “They were short of 13 square metres, despite the 24,000 square metres already available!” he says with a twinkle in his eye.

NEL’s own 3D models show where conduits and equipment for the pilot facility are to be installed. Project coordinator Thore Larsen is organising and also managing demolition activities in partnership with Pors gjerdefabrikk and Norsk Sanering.

Finalising the process equipment

What are you specifically doing now at NEL? 

“The most important thing now is to finalise the process equipment that we will be installing on the premises and adapting the facilities to the equipment, deciding on positions and security,” says Berdalen. NEL is preparing for automation.

First fully automatic pilot production  

“This is a pilot system,” explains Arild Berdalen. “We will be running fully automated production for the first time. Everything is done manually at the factory in Notodden, but now we are shifting up a gear. Here, we will be starting the first fully automated facility for the production of catalysers with a view to delivering efficient, clean energy to customers worldwide.

Secured valuable expertise

Arild Berdalen explains that they have secured valuable expertise, personnel who have previously worked at REC Solar.

Photo of the building where NEL are building a pilot plant

Producing electrode plates for electrolysers: NEL will be producing electrode plates for electrolysers around the clock at the pilot facility at Herøya. Photo: Tom Riis.

Berdalen indicates that the plant will be capable of producing around 36,640 electrode plates every 24 hours, which is equivalent to 160 electrolysers providing 1 tonne of hydrogen, which in turn is equivalent to 2.2 MW each. Electrode plates are sent straight out to customers, together with a diaphragm that they buy. And the electrolysers are installed on site on customers’ premises. 

Secret recipe - the biggest electrodes

profile photo of Berdalen

“Coca-Cola and NEL have something in common,” says Berdalen with a smile.

“They both have a secret recipe and design. The mix of chemicals is our big secret. And we have the biggest electrodes available at present which provide the biggest volume of clean, renewable energy.”

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