Test Field for Electrolyzers and Hybrid Power Plants

Thinking of wind energy and hydrogen together

Green hydrogen will be a central pillar of a sustainable energy future. Wind energy allows production of emission-free hydrogen by means of electrolysis. Offshore wind energy in particular offers great potential here, as wind at sea blows stronger and more consistently, plus intermediate storage of the generated energy will be required. This is possible in the form of hydrogen, which is why both hydrogen itself and its synthesis products are set to be central elements of the energy transition.

Fraunhofer IWES is ideally equipped for shaping the interplay of wind energy and hydrogen generation, reconversion, and grid integration as well as the potential use for decarbonization/defossilization of the industry as efficiently as possible:

  • with technology-independent test platforms (Hydrogen Labs) for the assessmentand optimization of electrolyzers (from the cell to the industry stack right up to full system level) with a total electrical power supply of up to 26 MW;
  • with the leading global facility for grid integration tests (DyNaLab);
  • with an application center for the modeling and regulation of decentralized and local energy systems;
  • with its many years of commitment to certification and standardization;
  • with testing capabilities for the long-term stability of materials and the dynamic operation of electrolyzers coupled with wind turbines;
  • with applied research in the field of the chemical industry (Power-to-X processes).

Combination of methodological expertise and unique research infrastructure


Hydrogen Labs

Bremerhaven, Leuna, Görlitz


Application Center for Integration of Local Energy Systems (ILES)

Upscaling to new dimensions – but safely!

The market ramp-up of green hydrogen requires reliable, safe, and cost-optimized systems and components along the entire value chain for widespread use in industry and business. In addition to operational safety, costs play a central role – here, the development of high-performance, cost-effective, and reliable components and the establishment of mass production for electrolyzers and fuel cells generate savings potential. Experimental testing and modeling based on it significantly reduce the risk of upscaling electrolyzers to new performance levels and areas of application such as the offshore sector.


Global player or SME, including sector coupling

Fraunhofer IWES considers the entire hydrogen value chain from production through to usage. The competencies and infrastructure of related institutes are drawn on for specific issues. Our customers include both globally operating corporations and regional small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Model processes of sector coupling can also be demonstrated and tested. This is particularly important in the case of fluctuating energy supply in order to ensure security of supply and to enable the storage of surplus power. Operating strategies for off-grid scenarios will be developed across systems and optimized under techno-economic aspects.


Core competency grid integration tests 

A stable grid is fundamental for a reliable supply – the grids are not currently designed for diverse feed-in points and fluctuating power supply. When there is an oversupply of renewable energies in the grid at present, wind turbines are often switched off so as not to overload the grid – or the electricity is sold abroad below price. The so-called “excess electricity” thus forces down the profitability and is not beneficial to public acceptance. Its use to produce hydrogen, which serves as a chemical energy store, can be a solution for that.

As electrolyzers are increasingly being connected to the grid as large consumers, grid stabilization is required to avoid jeopardizing smooth operation. Designing the electrical properties of electrolyzers in such a way that they stabilize the grid instead of overloading it is a key focus of our research work. Experimental tests are carried out in the Hydrogen Labs to achieve this goal and to provide manufacturers with data for the further development of their products.

Co-simulation of use cases

Our spectrum also includes solutions in the field of digitalization: key components of the hydrogen value chain will be modelled and a coherent data and model space created for the co-simulation of use cases for a future hydrogen economy. Furthermore, we are also working to expand a reference architecture for digital twins in such a way that it can represent the modularity of renewable energy systems and take changes to the system into account. This will create the basis for a unique digital twin of wind and hydrogen energy systems.

Fraunhofer IWES is part of several collaborative efforts in the BMBF’s hydrogen flagship projects:

The H2Mare project is investigating ways to make hydrogen production more efficient offshore; for example, by using waste heat from electrolysis for seawater desalination. To this end, a special test infrastructure is being set up at the Hydrogen Lab Bremerhaven (HLB). This will make it possible to simulate the effects of the offshore conditions in the upscaling chain from single-cell to megawatt-scale system and evaluate them in real operation.

At the Hydrogen Lab Görlitz (HLG), a tubular storage tank suitable for offshore use is being designed and tested in various application scenarios on the test bench. The main aim is to test and simulate its aging behavior by charging and discharging the storage tank in rapid succession.

Electrolysis stacks specifically optimized for offshore use are being tested at the Hydrogen Lab Leuna (HLL). To this end, new test and validation procedures are being developed for the diagnosis and prediction of degradation mechanisms occurring at the offshore site. This enables the evaluation of the lifetime and economic efficiency of the electrolyzers in real operation.

Fraunhofer IWES, together with Siemens Energy, is also leading the Project Management Office (PMO) for the overall management of the project.

In the H2GIGA project, the focus is on the mass production of electrolyzers independent of their underlying technology. Existing electrolysis technologies such as polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolysis, alkaline electrolysis (AEL), and high-temperature electrolysis (HTEL) are being further developed from a technical perspective. Aspects such as recycling and the flexible operation of electrolyzers are also being taken into consideration. As one of 24 alliances, the only Fraunhofer alliance contributes its expertise to the large-scale project with “FRHY – Reference Factory for High-Rate Electrolyzer Production”. Fraunhofer IPT, IPA, ENAS, and IWES are participating in this project, which is coordinated by the Fraunhofer IWU.

FRHY’s primary task is to set up a reference factory in which new production processes for electrolyzers can be developed and tested. The aim is to reduce the cost of producing electrolyzers for green hydrogen by more than a fifth. Together with Fraunhofer IWU, Fraunhofer IWES is testing the individual cells at the Hydrogen Labs Görlitz and the Hydrogen Lab Leuna in order to draw conclusions about material and production issues.

The goal of the Living Lab Northern Germany is to test the transformation path for an integrated energy system that will succeed in reducing CO2 emissions in the North by 75 percent by 2035. The model region of the Living Lab Northern Germany spans the federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, the west of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bremen. The project integrates different sector coupling projects into geographic hubs aligned with the network topology of the electricity and gas network.

This will involve production and lifes areas with particularly high energy consumption – in particular in industry, but also in heat supply and the mobility sector – being decarbonized step by step. Consequently, there will be eight electrolyzers in operation with a hydrogen generation capacity of 42 MW. In addition, three projects will be implemented at the Living Lab Northern Germany that will enable waste heat recovery with a capacity of 700 GWh per year. In the mobility sector, multiple hydrogen fueling stations and more than 200 vehicles will be tested in different application scenarios.

Fraunhofer IWES’ contribution is the creation of a simulation of the highly transient processes in one of the local energy systems considered, which is referred to as a hub. Subsequently, approaches are then to be found for how this local energy system can be operated in a way that supports the grid and reduces the load on the overall system. Fraunhofer IWES also develops operation management concepts so that the local energy system can be operated optimally as a whole. Legal and market conditions as well as the preferences of the operators are all taken into account to this end.