Saturday, 19 November 2011

E.ON tests wind-power storage in German gas supply network
16 Nov 2011

German utility E.ON has unveiled plans for a €5m ($6.8m) pilot plant that would use wind power to produce hydrogen for storage in the country's existing gas grid. The facility, in Falkenhagen in northeast Germany, will use power from intermittent renewable sources to generate about 360 cubic metres of hydrogen per hour through electrolysis-the process by which hydrogen and oxygen can be separated out of water.

Hydrogen produced at the plant, expected online in 2013, will be blended into the natural gas flowing in the Ontras pipeline, making the grid a storage system for renewable energy. "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", says Klaus-Dieter Maubach, the member of the E.ON board responsible for technology and development. "Using the existing gas infrastructure to store hydrogen is a promising approach in the long run, enabling us to combine our strengths as a power and gas company".

E.ON foresees increasing the concentration of hydrogen mixed into the gas from current levels of 5% to 15% "in the medium term". According to E.ON, the world's entire current renewable power output could be stored on the German gas grid. The company is also fast-tracking plans to boost its pumped-hydropower storage capacity. It intends to expand the existing pumped-hydropower facility at Edersee in the federal state of Hesse and has joined a consortium building a new plant on the German-Austrian border.