Hydrogen and RES as the fuel of ORLEN's future

PKN ORLEN, as the first energy company in the region of Central Europe, announced the achievement of climate neutrality and significant investments in the sector of low- and zero-emission sources. The planned investments will noticeably change the business profile of the entire ORLEN Group. The company in Płock is also expanding its potential in the field of hydrogen production and use.

ORLEN's goal in transforming its economic profile is to achieve climate neutrality in 2050 - it is consistent with EU's Green Deal policy. Its achievement should be possible, thanks to the acquisition of entities having such types of assets (Energa) and thanks to extensive investments in renewable sources. By 2030, the Polish oil giant plans to spend PLN 47 billion on these technologies. Most of this money will be spend, among others, on offshore and onshore wind energy installations and photovoltaics.

Thanks to the investments made so far, ORLEN has approximately 353 MW of installed energy in renewable technologies. This potential is expected to increase fivefold over the next ten years.

ORLEN's critical project in this regard is the construction of a wind farm in the Baltic Sea (located approximately 23km north of the coast of Choczewo and Łeba). It is to have a capacity of up to 1.2 GW. A particular company belonging to PKN ORLEN - Baltic Power and a foreign partner, Northland Power, are responsible for implementing this project. According to the plan, the windfarm will be ready by 2026, the contract for its connection to the grid has already been concluded.

The current decade will also be marked by significant investments of PKN ORLEN in photovoltaics. At that time, the company from Płock wants to build 400 MW of installed power in solar power plants. In 2030, ORLEN's assets are to include a total of 2.5 GW of installed power in renewable sources (calculated according to shares).

Holenderski pociąg napędzany wodorem [fot. Sander van der Werf / Shutterstock.com]

Another segment - although related to RES - which is to enable ORLEN's path to climate neutrality, is the production and use of hydrogen. Hydrogen technology, seen as an alternative fuel in the automotive and energy sectors, is already becoming one of the essential tools for the European Union's economic transformation. It can be used in the chemical, refining, metallurgical, food, automotive, energy and aeronautics industries.

The problem with obtaining this raw material has so far been an obstacle to the broad implementation of hydrogen in the industry. The most common and cost-effective method is natural gas reforming, a process that uses methane and water vapour to produce hydrogen, and this produces carbon dioxide emissions. The hydrogen obtained is called grey hydrogen. This method is responsible for 95% of the world's hydrogen supply. There are several ways to reduce the emissions of hydrogen production. The easiest way is to change the raw material for steam reforming from natural gas to biomethane. Another one is the use of CCUS CO2 capture, storage, and utilisation technology, as well as the production of hydrogen from municipal waste. The hydrogen produced in the electrolysis could be a breakthrough thanks to energy from renewable sources. This gives the possibility of synergy in coupling an expansive wind farm of renewable energy sources and electrolysers for hydrogen production. PKN ORLEN can implement these solutions thanks to the expanded potential of its RES (mainly: offshore wind energy). Moreover, the Polish company has ambitions to become the leader in the hydrogen market for transportation. It is already conducting investment projects related to the construction of hydrogen hubs in Trzebinia, Włocławek and Płock, along with refuelling stations in Poland and the Czech Republic. [fot. canon_photographer / Shutterstock.com]

Thanks to the simultaneous development of renewable and hydrogen technologies, ORLEN may not only achieve climate neutrality and contribute to the decarbonization of the economy but also join the world industry leaders in innovative energy solutions.

Text prepared by PKN Orlen