About Don Quichote

The Don Quichote project (Demonstration Of New QUalitative Innovative Concept of Hydrogen Out of wind Turbin Electricity), that ran from 2012 till 2018, demonstrated that the use of hydrogen as a large scale renewable energy storage solution is not “tilting windmills” anymore, but has technical and economic viability. It represents an interesting commercial opportunity to connect intermittent renewable electricity to transport applications.

The Don Quichote demonstration plant was implemented at a large logistic centre of Colruyt Group in Halle, near Brussels (BE). The plant at this centre is interconnected to an existing hydrogen refuelling facility that supplies hydrogen to a fleet of material handling vehicles. It receives energy from renewable energy sources: wind and solar power. In the project, components of an existing hydrogen refuelling system were replaced by innovative, more efficient components, and integrated with a renewable energy source, thereby realizing a renewable energy storage capacity based on hydrogen. By storing excess renewable electricity in large quantities in the form of hydrogen, renewable energy can be effectively used for mobility, grid balancing and fuel cell material handling vehicles. By demonstrating the impact on efficiency and costs of the operations of a large logistics centre, the project demonstrated the market readiness of the components needed for storing renewable energy in hydrogen.


  • Doubling the hydrogen capacity compared to existing systems by adding a very efficient and dynamic PEM-electrolyser, 130 kg/day.
  • Developing, testing, demonstrating and validating the coupling between wind turbine (1,5 MW) and solar panels (800 kW) and the electrolyser technology.
  • Scaling up of hydrogen applications (e.g. additional forklifts) in this refuelling station

3 phases


  • Phase 1: The existing hydrogen refueling infrastructure at Colruyt in Halle (BE), equipped with alkaline electrolyser, mechanical compressor, one storage at maximum 450 bar, a hydrogen dispenser at 350 bar and 2 material handling vehicles (number of MHV's from the start in 2015) as end user, was tested throughout the full duration of the project. In the meanwhile, a very efficient PEM electrolyser, its control system and a PEM fuel cell were being developed. Once relevant regulations, codes and standards were identified, a permitting dossier and a safety report have been prepared.
  • Phase 2: In this phase the PEM electrolyser has been assembled at Hydrogenics and installed at the demonstration site. The PEM Fuel cell system and the PEM electrolyser stack undertook the certification process. The existing equipment is interconnected to the phase 2 equipment to form a smart grid solution, which is able to supply hydrogen to vehicles, mainly material handling equipment, to store energy in the form of hydrogen from renewable electricity and to re-electrify hydrogen to electricity by means of the fuel cell and supply it to the grid at economical favorable conditions. The complete system for phase II has been built and commissioned, tested and monitored. Report on TCO and LCA have been produced and the assessment of feasibility/impact of large scale implementation performed.
  • Phase 3: A new compressor has been installed. The compressor will be used at Colruyt Group in the after life of the Don Quichote project.