The Dresden high-tech company Sunfire wants to be at the forefront with additional investments in the booming hydrogen market. Investments of more than 100 million euros are planned, said managing director Nils Aldag of the dpa.
In addition, there would be subsidies. In the next year and a half, the company plans to build a new plant and build so-called electrolysers for the production of hydrogen. In the first step, the plants should have an output of 500 megawatts. In addition, Sunfire wants to increase the number of employees to more than 400 by 2023 – currently there are around 260 employees.
According to Aldag, it is not yet clear where exactly the new plant will be built. “The final location decision has not yet been made.” Such an industrial plant could not be built in the middle of an urban area, emphasized the Sunfire boss. That is why research and development should remain at the Dresden location, which is close to the Technical University (TU) and institutions such as Fraunhofer.
Hydrogen already plays a major role in Saxony, and the Free State is involved in the European hydrogen alliance with several projects. Sunfire is part of a network called “H2-SARA”, with which electrolysers and production systems for fuel cells are to be built. For the “LHyVe” project, an entire value chain from production through storage and transport to the end use of “green hydrogen” is to be implemented in the Leipzig region and networked with other European projects. According to the Federal Ministry of Economics, a total of 62 German hydrogen projects are funded by the state with more than eight billion euros.
Concentration on hydrogen production for industry
Sunfire originally started with the idea of synthetically producing gasoline, diesel or kerosene using the so-called power-to-liquid process. For this process, hydrogen is generated in a first step – and then further developed through synthesis. Through company takeovers, Sunfire finally started to develop and build the “heart” for hydrogen production.
In the past year, the subject of hydrogen has gained so much momentum that we are now concentrating entirely on it, it said. Sunfire wants to compete on the market with other manufacturers of electrolysis systems – such as Siemens, Linde / ITM and Thyssenkrupp. When it comes to the use of hydrogen, Aldag sees the steel industry as well as the aviation sector and shipping in the focus. So far, Sunfire has implemented around 70 projects in 24 different countries, but is not yet producing on a large scale.
The problem with the use of electrolysers: They need large amounts of electricity that is as “green” as possible. There is not yet enough electricity from renewable energies in Germany for this, according to Aldag. “We have to bring the systems to places where green electricity is cheap and available and convert it into a transportable product.” The Sunfire boss named countries like Denmark, Sweden and Norway. There, iron ore could then be converted into “clean” steel pellets with the help of hydrogen and delivered back to Germany for the steel industry. “That can be done in two to three years,” Aldag is convinced.