Summary and goals

The Don Quichote project will demonstrate the technical and economic viability of an integrated hydrogen storage system for renewable electricity linked to a hydrogen refueling facility as an interesting commercial opportunity connecting intermittent renewable electricity to transport applications.

By demonstrating the impact on efficiency and costs of the operations of a large logistics centre, the project aims to demonstrate the market readiness of the components needed for storing renewable energy in hydrogen.

Several purposes

The produced hydrogen can be used in several ways for several purposes: balancing the grid by using fuel cells as well as refuelling of logistic applications like material handling equipment. The end user in the Don Quichote project is operating more than 85 conventional fuelling stations at their warehouses.

In the past some small, isolated, combinations of renewable electricity and hydrogen production, were demonstrated: these projects were limited in capacity and relatively short in duration. Topics as ‘overall efficiency’, ‘total cost of ownership’, ‘codes/standards’, ‘impact of different pricing levels of electricity’ have yet not been addressed in a comprehensive way.


The project Don Quichote is the next logical step towards the integration of ‘renewable electricity’ and ‘hydrogen’.


The project aims to

  • Intensively demonstrate and validate the system level technology readiness
  • Generate further facts based data for the exploitation of renewable electricity to hydrogen fuelled sustainable mobility

Based on regional funding in 2011 a hydrogen refuelling station has been put in operation near Brussels with the following specifications

  • On-site electrolysis, storage capacity 65 kg/day, 450 bar
  • Use of alkaline electrolyser with a footprint only half of the current standard footprints, and coupled to the grid
  • In the direct neighborhood (< 100 m) 1,5 MW wind turbine and 1050 kW of solar panels
  • Refuelling fuel cell based forklifts in a three shift operation

Starting from this system as an existing test platform, the following innovations and demonstrations will be carried out within this project:

  • Extensive testing of the existing system, focused on dynamic behavior, efficiencies, actual degradation figures, availability, total cost of operation
  • Doubling the hydrogen capacity by adding a very efficient and dynamic PEM-electrolyser (storage 130 kg/day)
  • Developing, testing, demonstration and validation of direct coupling between wind turbine (1,5 MW) and solar panels (800 kW) and the electrolyser technology
  • Adding of the conventional piston compressor by a new, high efficient compressor system based upon electrochemical compression
  • Upscaling of hydrogen applications (e.g. additional forklifts) in this refuelling station