Shell plans bio power-to-liquids project at Rheinland refinery

Shell is planning to build the first commercial bio-PTL (power-to-liquid) at its Rheinland refinery in Germany, which will involve expanding its electrolyzer project at the site to 100 MW.

Construction of the PTL unit, which would produce 100,000 mt/year of synthetic kerosene and raw gasoline (naphtha) using green hydrogen generated in the electrolyzer as well as biomass (waste wood), could start in 2023, with a view to commercial operations beginning in 2025.

Together with ITM Power and Linde, the company is currently commissioning what will be Europe's biggest polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzer at the site, a 10 MW unit.

Construction for the expanded electrolyzer project, Refhyne II, could start 2022 pending a final investment decision, with ITM and Linde again partnering Shell. Both projects at Wesseling near Cologne have applied for EU and German subsidies, it said.

"The Rheinland refinery is the motor and heart of Shell's activities in Germany and will play a key role to supply products that differ from today's oil-dominated offers," refinery director Marco Richrath said.

Shell's Germany head Fabian Ziegler said current mobility levels can only be maintained if sustainability levels for road, water and air transport increased. That requires a significant change to its product portfolio with Shell Germany planning to reduce its and its customers' emission by a third within a decade.

Shell estimates the project would lead to an 80% reduction in CO2 emissions. Shell joined Vattenfall and others proposing a 100 MW electrolyzer at Hamburg-Moorburg.

Shell also proposed a large electrolyzer project at the Port of Rotterdam to be supplied by offshore wind. Shell this year said it was to acquire Cologne-based virtual power plant (VPP) operator Next Kraftwerke.

The company remotely connects and manages over 10,000 decentralized renewable energy units with over 8 GW capacity across eight countries in mainland Europe.