Technology demonstration of large scale photo-electrochemical system for solar hydrogen production - PECSYS

Solar driven hydrogen generation via water electrolysis is an archetypal use of renewable energy that ensures a sustainable energy supply while minimizing greenhouse emissions. The challenges for adaptation by society are the high cost of the technology and maintaining the reliability of supply compared to conventional energy from fossil fuels.

State of the art photovoltaic (PV) – electrochemical (EC) systems use a separate PV module array, which is connected by wires to the EC electrolyser. However, where restrictions on footprint apply, integrated wireless PV-EC water electrolysis systems are an attractive solution. Up to date, integrated wireless PV-EC water electrolysis has only been demonstrated on a laboratory scale.

The PECSYS project aims at demonstrating an operational PV-EC system measuring at least 10 m² with a solar to hydrogen (STH) efficiency of at least 6 % supporting a hydrogen production of at least 16 g/h at a levelised cost of 5€/kg. The system is also expected to operate continuously under outdoor conditions with an STH efficiency loss of less than 10% relative after six months.

Specific Objectives

PECSYS specific objectives are to:

  • Study and develop devices for integrated PV-EC concepts and scale viable concepts to prototype size > 100 cm².
  • Use socio-techno-economic analysis to predict and select concepts with levelised cost of hydrogen production below € 5/kg.
  • Scale the prototypes of the less mature but promising technologies to a demonstrator with active area > 10 m².
  • Achieve a hydrogen production of 16 g-H2/h from the demonstrator resulting in a STH efficiency of at least 6 %.
  • Ensure that the initial demonstrator STH efficiency does not reduce by more than 10 % after six months of continuous operation.

The project is anticipated to increase awareness of the technical and economic benefits of such a system among the general public and manufacturing companies, who are the prospective users and producers, respectively. The results and knowledge acquired from the project would provide an additional alternative for carbon neutral energy generation and improve the competitiveness of European PV and electrolyser manufacturers who would benefit from value added to their products.

Work Programme

The project, coordinated by Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB), has been divided into eight Work Packages (WPs), which will be delivered over the period Jan 2017 – Dec 2020.


WP 1 – Coordination: comprises those activities related to the management of the project including financial, technical, communication and risk management; as well as the quality assurance of its deliverables. [WP leader: Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie - HZB]


WP2 – Silicon based approach: dedicated to the upscaling of silicon based PV driven electrolyser approach and the improvement of its stability together with WP5. [WP leader: Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie - HZB]


WP3 – CIGS based approach: dedicated to the development of higher voltage CIGS materials, development of catalyst modules, and upscaling of the CIGS based PV driven electrolyser approach with non-precious HER and OER catalysts. [WP leader: Uppsala Universitet - UU]


WP4 – Cassette approach: will develop a modular electrolyser consisting of one or several cells connected in series in a ‘cassette design’ to adapt the operating voltage of the EC- to the PV-modules. [WP leader: Consiglio Nazionalle delle Ricerche – CNR]


WP5 – Packaging and sealing: dedicated to increase the lifetime of integrated PV-EC devices to ensure the project’s overall objective of more than six month operation with less than 10% degradation. [WP leader: Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie - HZB]


WP6 – Device simulation / Socio-techno-economic-& life-cycle-analysis: dedicated to the understanding of the system in terms of technology development- and cost-potential. Technology potential will be screened based on band gap and band energies calculations, which will be determined from photosensitivity measurements. A complete socio-techno-economic model based on cost and performance of each essential component will be developed including BoP. [WP leader: Uppsala Universitet - UU]


WP7 – Prototype panel and field tests: dedicated to scale up of the selected device concept to the module size and the actual realization and testing of the 10 m² system including BoP and gas handling. [WP leader: Forschungszentrum Jülich - FZJ]


WP8 – Project Exploitation, Dissemination and Communication: dedicated to the installation and maintenance of appropriate dissemination and external communication activities as well as the set-up and follow-up of adequate exploitation activities. [WP leader: Solibro Research AB - SRAB]


“This project has received funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking under grant agreement 735218. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and Hydrogen Europe and N.ERGHY”