German utility E.ON AG (EOAN.XE) said Tuesday it has started construction of a pilot plant that enables wind-generated power to be stored in the gas grid.
-The Falkenhagen, Germany-based plant will store excess power from wind farms from 2013, meaning wind farms that create excess power can continue generating rather than be shut down to avoid bottlenecks.
-The plant uses electrolysis to create hydrogen that can then be treated like natural gas, and be fed into the regional gas grid where it can produce heat and power.
-Power-to-gas technology is attractive because of the large storage capacity offered by existing gas infrastructure.
-Due to gas regulations, only a small amount of hydrogen gas can currently be fed into the gas infrastructure.
-To expand the energy storage potential, the next step is to convert hydrogen into synthetic gas.
-With this pilot project, E.ON intends to contribute towards improving the efficiency.
Construction of E.ON’s new pilot plant to enable power generated by the wind to be stored in the gas grid is now underway. The plant will be built in Falkenhagen, located in north-east Germany. From 2013 onwards the power-to-gas plant will handle excess power that is generated by wind farms and cannot be fed into the power grid. By storing the excess power, wind farms, which would otherwise be shutdown for a while to avoid bottlenecks in the power grid, can continue to generate power.
The plant works by using electrolysis. In the process about 360 m³ of hydrogen is produced per hour. This hydrogen can then be treated like natural gas. Once the process is complete, it can then be fed into the regional gas grid where it is then available for producing heat and power.
Power-to-gas technology is particularly attractive because of the large storage capacity offered by existing gas infrastructure. Due to gas regulations, at the moment only a small amount of hydrogen gas can be fed into the gas infrastructure. To expand the energy storage potential, the next step is to convert hydrogen into synthetic gas. Theoretically, this means that the entire storage capacity of the gas grid could be utilized.
With this pilot project, E.ON intends to contribute significantly towards improving the efficiency of the entire process – including the integration of wind power and the injection of hydrogen into the gas grid. E.ON’s project will help enable the power-to-gas technology to be used economically in the future and on an industrial scale.
Klaus-Dieter Maubach, member of the E.ON AG Board of Management responsible for technology and innovation, said: “If Germany expands the use of renewable energy sources in the coming years as planned, the power supply on very windy or sunny days will exceed demand more and more often, and to a growing extent. This will increasingly bring the power grid to the limits of its capacity. E.ON is therefore investing in the development of technologies to store large energy volumes. In this respect, power-to-gas is a promising solution for the future energy supply system.”