In Europe, Essen-based electric utility, RWE has unveiled its €2m power-to-gas energy storage plant in the region in Germany, centered on the cities of Arnsberg, Bielefeld, Osnabrück, Dortmund, Minden, and Münster.
The gas-to-power plant uses electrolysis to convert excess electricity from renewable sources into hydrogen. The hydrogen is then stored within the natural gas network and converted back into electricity when needed.
Adding to this, the waste heat from the electrolyser is also utilised via a connection with the local district heating network.
The system is designed by UK company ITM Power, reported to be measured at overall energy efficiency of 86%.
RWE Germany chief technical officer Dr Joachim Schneider said: “The benefit of this form of electricity storage is the enormous infrastructure already offered by the natural gas network, which has huge storage capacity and a high-performing network.
“But that is not all – with a utilisation rate of 86%, this power-to-gas plant is the most efficient of its kind in Germany”.
Storage aids renewable integration
RWE Germany CEO Dr Arndt Neuhaus said that energy storage projects like RWE's new power-to-gas energy storage plant would be vital to meeting German Government targets to source 50% of electricity from renewables within the next 15 years.
In the longer-term, the German Government has targeted an energy transition – energiewende – to a 100% renewable grid.
“Our electricity grid will have to perform at an even higher level than before to achieve this,” said Neuhaus. “Under these changed conditions, the power-to-gas technology will be an exemplary solution, as it makes it possible for us to respond immediately to fluctuating volumes of incoming power”.
It is reported that without energy storage, it is expected that Germany will be unable to use around 38 TWh of electricity generated from renewable energy sources by the year 2050, due to imbalances in supply and demand.