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Enel and Power to Hydrogen: Boosting decarbonization through green hydrogen

Enel and Power to Hydrogen: Boosting decarbonization through green hydrogen

Enel Green Power is supporting the scaleup of Power to Hydrogen, a startup focused on making green hydrogen competitive with respect to fossil fuels to help hard-to-decarbonize industries eliminate emissions.


In fighting climate change, there are industries where direct electrification is not possible, and these are known as “hard-to-abate” sectors.

Startups like Power to Hydrogen, which have the mission to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy by making green hydrogen competitive, are playing a key role, especially by helping to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors. Now, through its collaboration with Enel, Power to Hydrogen will be able to validate its technology and attract prospective partners and investors through our unique NextHy Booster Program.


Enhancing the competitiveness of clean energy

The idea for Power to Hydrogen, a startup which was founded in the United States, was hatched during the course of a research and development project on new materials for electrolyzers. “We came up with an idea for a better cell design that could change the economics for green hydrogen,” explains the startup’s CTO and co-founder Paul Matter, who goes on to say: “We realized that if we wanted this promising approach to be useful, we needed to form a startup and commercialize it.”

Power to Hydrogen’s cutting-edge technology is based on a unique cell design that uses low-cost, earth-abundant materials to provide on-site hydrogen generation. The startup’s flagship, Clean Energy Bridge, is an AEM (Anion Exchange Membrane) electrolyzer that converts renewable electricity and water into high pressure hydrogen and oxygen by using an inexpensive alkaline membrane. This durable electrolyzer technology enables the on-site generation of high-pressure hydrogen, which solves many of the logistical challenges in the production and transportation of hydrogen. “Industrial hard-to-abate sectors are a priority, but hydrogen can also be an energy carrier for long-haul transportation (e.g., maritime and aviation) or long-duration seasonal storage, so that it can be converted back to energy using a fuel cell or turbine, in scenarios of very high penetration of intermittent renewables,” Matter says.

Matter believes that “hydrogen is a fundamental pillar in the transition to clean energy because many major processes, such as fertilizer, steel, glass or other types of chemical production, can only be decarbonized with a zero-emission fuel.” Furthermore, as more renewables are added to the grid, there will be a surplus of electricity during certain time periods. Matter explains that “hydrogen allows you to take the excess renewable energy and convert it into something useful, and the hydrogen can also be stored at a competitive cost.”


Power to Hydrogen and Enel’s decarbonization strategy

Enel has identified green hydrogen as a key pillar in its strategy of decarbonizing energy uses, and sees it as the perfect complement to direct electrification. The Group launched several initiatives to foster the scaleup of new technologies related to hydrogen, like NextHy Booster, a fast-track program that tests, validates and accelerates startup technologies in the growing green hydrogen market.

The role of Enel’s Innovation Hub in Silicon Valley was instrumental in the birth of this collaboration. The Hub, leveraging the expertise of Powerhouse – an established innovation firm in the Bay area with significant technical expertise – scouted for the best emerging technologies to tap into the potential of the vibrant hydrogen startup ecosystem.

By making green hydrogen more affordable through its innovative solution, Power to Hydrogen is revolutionizing the energy industry and playing a key role in climate change mitigation. The startup is currently producing a handful of small-scale systems for demonstration purposes, and the first of these are being tested by Enel. Particularly, the system Enel is testing is based on Power to Hydrogen's patented 10-kW Clean Energy Bridge electrolysis stack. “As we scale up, Enel has been a valuable partner in validating the technology and supporting the development of our business strategy,” Matter says.

Enel is also helping Power to Hydrogen establish a presence in the European market. Matter adds: “As a startup, we have found that other large businesses are slow to work with younger companies, but Enel was willing to take that chance and is the first customer who will validate the technology.” Matter also hopes that the program will “lead to further long-term collaborations.”

Matter says that “Enel has a network, capabilities, and ambitions that can help pull along a startup like ours, which has limited resources.”

Paolo Prevedello, a Storage & Hybrid Systems Innovation Engineer at Enel Green Power and project owner of the NextHy Booster program, says that “Power to Hydrogen is working tirelessly to scale its innovative AEM technology to an industrial level and it is taking full advantage of the potential provided by this unique collaboration to facilitate this goal. Indeed, by joining the NextHy Booster Program, a startup can benefit from a dedicated work plan tailored to its specific needs and aimed at accelerating its industrial transition, as well as the possibility to validate quickly and effectively its solution, thereby gaining an important reference for the market.” 


Delivering zero-emission hydrogen fuel to the world

Power to Hydrogen has big plans for the future and, thanks to its collaboration with Enel, it is about to close its Series A round of funding. This will aid the development of commercial-scale systems, in addition to helping it establish a strong presence in Europe.

“Enel has an ambitious roadmap in terms of the volume of hydrogen production,” Matter explains. He adds: “I personally think that roadmap will require new electrolysis technologies that can follow renewable loads and are low-cost, which is exactly what we are developing, in order to achieve costs that are competitive with natural gas.”

As the transition to renewable energies becomes increasingly urgent, startups like Power to Hydrogen are proving to be significant players in the new paradigm for hydrogen generation. At Enel, we continuously strive to support these innovative technologies which are contributing to climate change mitigation and driving the energy transition. Matter sees this as “being a great partnership moving forward that will deliver zero-emission hydrogen fuel.” By contributing to a Net-Zero transition, Power to Hydrogen is the materialization of his definition of being an innovator. “Innovation is a new means of solving a problem that improves the world,” he concludes.