PRESS RELEASE Corporate

Rolls-Royce and cellcentric seal breakthrough of fuel cells in emissions-free power generation

Posted on November 08, 2021

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  • Sustainable mtu solutions for sustainable power generation for data centers under development
  • Triple-digit million amount to be invested in hydrogen-based, CO2-free power generation
  • Fuel cell prototypes already on the test stand
  • Pilot installations planned for 2023
  • Market launch envisaged mid-decade
  • Uniquely designed mtu fuel cell showpiece premieres at COP26 United Nations Climate Conference in Glasgow  

Rolls-Royce and cellcentric, a joint venture company set up by Daimler Truck AG and Volvo Group AB, are taking the next step in their strategic cooperation for the deployment of cellcentric hydrogen fuel cell modules. Rolls-Royce, through its Power Systems business unit, is to develop complete mtu hydrogen fuel cell solutions based on cellcentric’s fuel cell modules that emit nothing other than water vapour. This will enable C02-free, climate-neutral generation of emergency power for data centers. Rolls-Royce is among the world's top three suppliers of emergency gensets for data centers. Both Rolls-Royce and cellcentric are keen to play a part in driving the fuel cell breakthrough and are convinced that the technology – and time – are right for successfully
launching commercial fuel cell applications for the mass market.

Each fuel cell module will in the future deliver a net power output of around 150 kW – sufficient to power approximately 10 homes or 50 washing machines – and can be connected together into scalable fuel cell power plants with outputs in the megawatt range, capable of providing clean back up power for large data centers. Rolls-Royce commissioned a fuel cell demonstrator earlier this year and plans to bring a further demonstrator plant on line in 2022, based on modules providing approximately 100 kW each. The first pilot plants with customers will be installed in 2023, with Rolls-Royce launching standard production fuel cell systems in 2025. A fuel cell module is currently on display on the Rolls-Royce stand at COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland, in special, sleekly designed casing with a stylized 'H', the chemical symbol for hydrogen, on the front side.

Operators of the very large data centers that handle telecommunications and internet traffic are considered a key customer group and the market is growing rapidly. Rolls-Royce is keen to enable energy-intensive data centers to substantially reduce their CO2 footprint by making it possible for them to renounce the use of electricity generated from fossil fuels.

“Electrical generators based on fuel cells represent the next leap forward in the energy transition, both for us and our customers,” said Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems. “That's why we're investing a three-digit million amount in R&D over the next few years and we hope that this strong commitment will encourage governments and politicians to promote and support this pioneering, extremely climate-friendly, technology. When they run on green hydrogen, meaning hydrogen made using renewable energy sources, fuel cells are climate-neutral. For this reason, and also because we're simply convinced by fuel cell technology, we also want to look into how green hydrogen can be produced cost-effectively in the quantities we need.”

Perry Kuiper, President Sustainable Power Solutions at Rolls-Royce Power Systems, added “We're among the world's top three suppliers of emergency gensets for data centers and as such we enjoy the long-standing trust of our customers, who are now seeking sustainable solutions to their energy supply needs. We've declared it our mission to have over half of data centers supplied by emergency power from fuel cells in the future.” Development of CO2-free solutions using hydrogen technology is taking place at Rolls-Royce Power Systems in its new 'Power Lab' division.

Dr. Matthias Jurytko, CEO cellcentric, said: “The hydrogen-based fuel cell is a crucial building block to achieve the goal of a CO2-neutral society. With Rolls-Royce, we have an important partner at our side with whom we want to achieve further economies of scale to help the technology achieve a breakthrough. Our cooperation sends a clear signal to politicians and industry: both companies are convinced of the benefits of fuel cells and are working hard to commercialize them. The right framework conditions for this must therefore now be put in place. This applies in particular to the issue of infrastructure and thus the generation, storage and transport of hydrogen.”

Partnership with cellcentric offers Rolls-Royce the opportunity of using fuel cell modules produced by a leading supplier with long-standing experience. Its quick deployment of a large volume of fuel cells has in turn enabled cellcentric to ramp up its series production, while preparation for on-highway use is still in progress. Their installation into heavy-duty utility vehicles from Daimler Truck AG and Volvo is planned for the second half of the decade.  

About Rolls-Royce Holdings plc

  1. Rolls-Royce pioneers the power that matters to connect, power and protect society. We have pledged to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions in our operations by 2030. We joined the UN Race to Zero campaign in 2020, and have committed to ensuring our new products will be compatible with net zero operation by 2030, and all products will be compatible with net zero by 2050.
  2. Rolls-Royce Power Systems is headquartered in Friedrichshafen in southern Germany and
    employs around 9,000 people. The product portfolio includes mtu-brand high-speed engines and propulsion systems for ships, power generation, heavy land, rail and defence vehicles and for the oil and gas industry as well as diesel and gas systems and battery containers for mission critical, standby and continuous power, combined generation of heat and power, and microgrids.
  3. Rolls-Royce has customers in more than 150 countries, comprising more than 400 airlines and
    leasing customers, 160 armed forces and navies, and more than 5,000 power and nuclear customers.
  4. Annual underlying revenue was £11.76 billion in 2020 and we invested £1.25 billion on
    research and development. We also support a global network of 28 University Technology Centres, which position Rolls-Royce engineers at the forefront of scientific research.
  5. Rolls-Royce Holdings plc is a publicly traded company (LSE:RR., ADR: RYCEY, LEI: 213800EC7997ZBLZJH69).

About cellcentric

cellcentric develops, produces and markets fuel cell systems for use in heavy-duty commercial vehicles as its main focus, as well as for other application areas with similar requirements. cellcentric
is a joint venture of Daimler Truck AG and the Volvo Group, founded in 2021. The company leverages the know-how and extensive experience from several decades of development work on fuel cells at its predecessor companies. cellcentric's goal is to become a leading global manufacturer of fuel cells and thus contribute to climate-neutral and sustainable transportation by 2050.

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