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NREL - National Renewable Energy Laboratory
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Characterization and Testing

NREL works with industry leaders from the United States, Canada, and Europe to develop characterization and testing protocols for renewable-based electrolyzers and to compare the performance of electrolyzers from various manufacturers.

NREL's efforts involve establishing testing protocols for electrolyzer operation under varying input power conditions. These protocols are based on actual operational data from wind farms, photovoltaic cells, and projected load-shifting.

NREL will use the protocols to test electrolyzers onsite. Specific performance measures will include the purity of hydrogen at low power and the long-term effects of variable power operation on electrolyzer system and stack efficiency. The long-term goal of this activity is to develop a consensus-based testing protocol with industry on electrolyzer performance.

Learn more about renewable electrolysis.

Photo of 10-kW wind turbine.

10-kW wind turbine.

Photo of 100-kW wind turbine.

100-kW wind turbine.

Electrolysis Testing

NREL has expanded the infrastructure at its Distributed Energy Resources Test Facility, which is located at the National Wind Technology Center, to enable testing of larger renewable electrolysis systems. Electrical and water facilities were expanded to enable testing of MW-scale systems.

Equipment requiring renewable energy inputs can tap into NREL's onsite renewable sources to assist in or entirely power the proposed equipment. Given the seasonal variations of wind and solar energy resources at NREL's test site, consideration is given to the time of year that the testing is performed. NREL can also supply varying power inputs by using programmable power supplies to simulate renewable energy sources.

Equipment and Capabilities

Photo of 10-kW photovoltaic array at NREL.

10-kW photovoltaic array at NREL.

NREL's equipment and capabilities include:

  • 10-kW photovoltaic system that can be configured into two 5-kW arrays at various voltages
  • 10-kW permanent magnet and variable-speed wind-turbine generator where energy can be used in the variable frequency/magnitude alternating current (AC) form or more likely rectified to help satisfy the direct current (DC)requirements of the equipment
  • 100-kW synchronous, variable-speed, direct-drive wind-turbine generator that produces a DC bus ranging from roughly 750–800 V where energy can be used to help power the DC requirements of the equipment
  • Photovoltaic (24 kW) and wind-turbine simulation (100 kW) through programmable AC and DC power supplies.