Alkaline electrolysis scaling is picking up speed: Sunfire acquires electroplating specialist
Dresden / Solingen, January 14, 2022
Sunfire is preparing the rapid expansion of its manufacturing capacities for alkaline electrolyzers. The company is bringing one of the core production processes in house, acquiring the Solingen branch of experienced German electroplating specialist MTV NT GmbH.
Next year, Sunfire will be starting to manufacture its pressurized alkaline electrolyzers for hydrogen projects on the 100 MW scale. In this context, the company is currently establishing a new value chain. A key stage in the process is electroplating, where metallic coating is applied to the cells that make up the core components of an electrolyzer.
Only a handful of companies are capable of processing components of the necessary size. One of them is MTV NT GmbH (MTV). From its two sites in Germany in Solingen and Mulheim, the company has been serving industrial companies since 1945 and is now one of the world leaders in functional surface coating for large components. Sunfire is acquiring the Solingen site to build on these competences.
Sunfire CEO Nils Aldag says: “This is the perfect route for us to take. It would cost valuable time to build up a brand-new factory from scratch. The perfect production conditions are already in place and we can rely on a highly experienced and competent team.”
Over the coming months, the site will be overhauled to meet the requirements of the electrolysis company. To this end, existing electroplating systems are converted into a State-of-the-Art electroplating system for fully automated electrode coating.
“For the last 30 years, we have mostly been working for the mining sector,” explained Arwed Gößler, who has been leading MTV since 2015 and is now taking on the role of Managing Director at the Sunfire site in Solingen. “We have applied metallic coatings to hydraulic cylinders for customers all around the world. However, the industry has undergone fundamental changes,” added Gößler. Because of this – and to ensure that it would remain fit for the future – MTV has already started looking at making the switch to processing alkaline electrolyzers at an early stage.
“Coating large components in high numbers based on very specific requirements – this is simply a perfect fit for us,” summarized Gößler. “And we are fast.” The first 250 MW coating plant is due to start operation before the end of the year. Next year, the annual production capacity will already rise to 500 MW, with planning already under way for expansion to 1 GW.1)
Meanwhile, Nils Aldag and his team at the company’s headquarters in Dresden, Germany continue to push ahead with their plans for upscaling alkaline electrolyzer production. “To ensure that we are able to expand our manufacturing capabilities quickly enough, we will also be relying on the expertise of other established companies,” explained the Sunfire CEO, emphasizing: “We will be concentrating on Europe – our electrolyzers carry the label ‘Made in Europe’.”
Sunfire added pressurized alkaline electrolyzers to its portfolio in January 2021. As part of this process, the German company acquired a pioneer in the field: the Swiss company IHT Industrie Haute Technology SA. As the order books of the company’s factory in Monthey, Switzerland are already full, Sunfire will be additionally expanding its manufacturing capacities elsewhere.
1) The final investment decision should be made upon completion of site selection for all production steps. The decision is subject to obtaining the necessary financing, including those requested within the framework of the IPCEI process. In May 2021, Sunfire was selected for funding support within the framework of a joint European hydrogen project (“Hydrogen IPCEI” – Important Project of Common European Interest) by the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy and the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure. The European Commission is currently conducting a notification procedure to examine compatibility with EU state aid law.