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Teaser, summary, work performed and final results

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - BALANCE (Increasing penetration of renewable power, alternative fuels and grid flexibility by cross-vector electrochemical processes)


The growing problem that we address is the mismatch between the solar and wind electricity production and consumption patterns. A fundamental issue with the wind and solar electricity is the dependence of the production on the weather, while the electricity consumption is...


The growing problem that we address is the mismatch between the solar and wind electricity production and consumption patterns. A fundamental issue with the wind and solar electricity is the dependence of the production on the weather, while the electricity consumption is dictated by human activities. The matching between electricity production and consumption must be kept at all time to ensure grid reliability. In case of oversupply of electricity, some renewable resources need to be disconnected from the grid. In case of high electricity demand, renewable energy storages could be utilised instead of producing power from flexible fossil fuel power plants. Solving this issue is critical for the EU and our society in order to decrease the environmental footprint of our energy system, our security of energy supply and minimize the cost of energy.

We ambition to address this problem with the reversible high temperature electrolyser technology. High temperature steam electrolysers use electricity to produce hydrogen that can be used as a fuel or stored for a later time. A reversible electrolyser is capable of converting this hydrogen back into electricity, meaning it can store electrical energy in the form of a chemical fuel that can be easily stored for short or long periods. Since this technology is based on Reversible Solid Oxide Cells, it is referred to as rSOC. The technology is not yet mature in terms of performance and cost for market entry. The partners of the BALANCE project are joining their effort to develop this technology and to demonstrate its feasibility. Reversible electrolyser technology is expected to support the growth of wind and solar energy by providing grid-balancing services.

As a European Common Research and Innovation Agendas (ECRIA) project, BALANCE builds on significant achievements in national research programmes. A key outcome of BALANCE will be the drafting of a European research agenda for the Reversible Solid Oxide Cell technology to coordinate the European R&D effort in order to accelerate technological development and deployment of rSOC.

Our technical objectives are to improve the technology at different scales - from electrode microstructure to system - and demonstrate it at system level in two locations. We aim to achieve 50 % efficiency in fuel cell mode and 90 % efficiency in electrolysis mode. The project should also investigate the most efficient and feasible downstream processing of the produced hydrogen into more conventional fuels.

Work performed

Main results of the first reporting period include: 1. manufacturing of over one hundred state-of-the-art cells by Technical University of Denmark and extensive characterisation campaign across the consortium along with a parallel development for novel material and microstructure (infiltrated oxygen electrode and doped strontium titanates for the fuel electrodes). The aim is to provide high efficiency and durable cells with upscalable production methods. 2. Improvement of stack design and operation in reversible mode. 3. Stainless steel samples coated with four different protective layers, which are being tested in high temperature exposure. The aim is to use low-cost material, while having suitable durability. 4. rSOC system modelling for improving system efficiency, dimension components and ensure safe operation of the system. System manufacturing will take place in the second period of the project.
In addition, European-wide survey on energy storage collected a significant number of answers that will be open for consultation after data processing. This survey work will be the basis for the drafting of an integrated European research agenda for rSOC technology. This public document will present the different research efforts and achievement obtained so far in the field and advise future development needs and needed support at the European level.
All public deliverables of the BALANCE project are available on the website:

Final results

We expect to build synergies between the different achievements obtained in national programmes and elaborate an integrated European research Agenda covering the rSOC technology, which will accelerate European technological development.
During the project, we expect to demonstrate rSOC at system level including all the relevant Balance-of-Plant components and using the unit cells manufactured by DTU and assembled into stacks by CEA, two of the BALANCE partners. The efficiency is targeted to be 90% in electrolysis mode and 50% in fuel cell mode. Such achievements will have important implications in the capacity of the European Union to reach their energy targets, since rSOC technology support the introduction of renewable electricity sources by acting as an energy buffer by converting surplus power into chemical form (hydrogen for example) and converting it back into electricity when the power supply cannot keep up with the demand. In addition, rSOC bridges the electricity grid and chemical fuel production, which can increase the share of renewable in the transport fuel mix.

Website & more info

More info: