BASF wins funding approval to build one of Germany’s largest PEM electrolyzers

Germany’s chemical producer BASF has secured the approval of funding from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK) and the State of Rhineland-Palatinate to build a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer which is expected to produce up to 8,000 metric tons of hydrogen per year.

Illustration of the future water electrolysis plant integrated at the BASF site in Ludwigshafen. Image by Siemens Energy / BASF

With an output of 54 MW, the PEM electrolyzer will be one of the largest of its kind in Germany once it is operational, BASF said, explaining that the approval of the funding marks a major step closer to building the electrolyzer.

Powered by electricity from renewable energy sources, the system will produce CO2-free hydrogen and thereby reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at the site by up to 72,000 metric tons annually.

BASF underscored it will primarily use this hydrogen as a raw material in the manufacture of products with a reduced carbon footprint. In addition, the company will supply hydrogen for mobility in the Rhine-Neckar Metropolitan Region to support the ramp-up of a hydrogen economy in the area.

In cooperation with Siemens Energy, work on the water electrolysis at the Ludwigshafen site – the so-called Hy4Chem-EI project – is now entering the next phase of construction, the company added.

BASF and Siemens Energy plan to begin operating the water electrolysis plant in 2025. In cooperation with the State of Rhineland-Palatinate, the BMWK is contributing up to €124.3 million to the project – up to €37.3 million of which will be financed by the government of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Melanie Maas-Brunner, member of the Board of Executive Directors of BASF SE and Site Director Ludwigshafen, said: “In today’s chemical industry, our main need for low-carbon hydrogen is as a raw material. In the long term, it will also become increasingly important for BASF as an energy vector. That is why I am particularly pleased that our politicians have recognized the project’s potential.

In Siemens Energy, we also have a partner with outstanding technological expertise at our side. The current funding commitment shows that politics and business are working together to shape the industrial sector’s energy transformation. This is both a milestone on the road to net zero carbon emissions and a sign of the Ludwigshafen site’s capabilities.”

Just recently, Siemens Energy inaugurated the new gigawatt electrolyzer factory in Berlin, Germany, to make electrolyzers a mass product, laying the foundation for the ramp-up of the hydrogen economy.