Netherlands-based nuclear energy development company ULC-Energy says a recent study has shown the cost effectiveness of hydrogen produced by a Rolls-Royce small modular reactor (SMR) combined with high temperature Solid Oxide Electrolyser Cell (SOEC) technology produced by Denmark-based Topsoe. The study involved Topsoe, Rolls-Royce SMR and Dutch energy market consultancy, KYOS.

In August 2022, Rolls-Royce SMR signed an exclusive agreement with ULC-Energy to collaborate on deployment of Rolls-Royce SMR NPPs in the Netherlands. In November 2023, ULC-Energy, Topsoe and Rolls-Royce SMR signed an agreement to jointly investigate the production of hydrogen using Topsoe’s SOEC technology with power and heat produced by a Rolls-Royce SMR NPP. The study has revealed that the SMR-SOEC combination had a number of advantages:

  • A Rolls-Royce SMR power plant can operate 24/7, with 95% availability;
  • SOEC electrolysis can produce more hydrogen per total power input when compared with conventional electrolyser technologies;
  • Steam can be supplied directly from the NPP heat exchangers; and
  • H2 production can take place off-grid.

Hydrogen can be produced by the SMR-SOEC combination for less than €3.5/kg ($3.8/kg). This cost could be reduced to less than €2.00/kg by 2050 by taking into account the value of the flexibility of curtailing hydrogen production and delivering electricity to an increasingly intermittent grid. The study demonstrated that system would produce the highest annual quantity of Hydrogen as a result of higher process efficiency and a high availability.

“The large-scale production of clean hydrogen is an extremely important driver of decarbonisation,” said Dirk Rabelink from ULC-Energy. “ULC-Energy has been working closely with Rolls-Royce SMR in the Netherlands since 2022 when it selected Rolls-Royce SMR as its preferred SMR technology for deployment in the Netherlands. The study that is now completed clearly demonstrates the capability of nuclear to deliver low cost, clean hydrogen at an industrial scale. Importantly it also shows the additional value associated with the flexibility to switch between energy markets such as electricity, heat and, in this case, hydrogen. Topsoe SOEC and Rolls-Royce SMR are both highly modularised solutions that are factory manufactured can be scaled rapidly.”

Topsoe’s SOEC technology has been under development for over 15 years and in 2023 ground was broken at its 500 MW SOEC manufacturing facility. Sundus Cordelia Ramli, CCO Power to X at Topsoe noted: “The high capacity factor of nuclear power plant, together with a direct source of heat, makes

“Rolls-Royce SMR believes one of its powerful advantages is that it can produce clean energy cheaply and extremely reliably, but can also direct its output to meet demand,” said Alan Woods, Rolls-Royce SMR’s Director of Strategy & Business Development. “This operational flexibility will be increasingly valuable as intermittent energy sources, such as wind and solar, expand. We are excited by the results of ULC-Energy’s study and look forward to taking next steps.”