In August 2012, global power and gas company E.ON AG started construction of a pilot plant that will allow storage of wind-generated energy on Germany’s natural-gas grid. The forward-looking initiative represents an option for handling large energy-storage demands in the future.
E.ON AG’s pilot plant at Falkenhagen in northeast Germany will convert excess wind power first into hydrogen—which will be piped to and stored on the country's natural-gas grid. The plant is expected to produce approximately 360 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour through electrolysis, starting in 2013. Approximately 2 megawatts (MW) of wind power will be supplied to the plant. (This is Online Ref. 1 in the Nov. CE article, “Integrated energy storage systems.”)
Hydrogen fed into the gas pipeline system will be used like normal natural gas, according to E.ON. Presently, regulations allow adding up to 5% hydrogen to the natural-gas grid. For wider energy-storage potential, the next step will be to convert hydrogen into synthetic gas. This initiative would make the gas grid a power storage system for weather-dependent renewable energy sources, the company noted.
Demand for large-scale storage capacity will arise over the coming decades, when most generated power comes from renewable energy, according to E.ON. "We need new storage capacities so that we can further increase the share of weather-dependent wind power in our generation portfolio in coming years,” said Klaus-Dieter Maubach, member of the E.ON AG board of management. “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.”
Operating experience to be gained at the storage plant should provide valuable input for further initiatives in this technology sector. The Falkenhagen plant represents an investment of €5 million for E.ON AG.
- Edited by Frank J. Bartos, PE, a Control Engineering contributing content specialist. Reach him at braunbart(at)sbcglobal.net
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