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Hydrogenics wins order from E.ON for power-to-hydrogen-gas energy storage project in Germany

Electrolysis company Hydrogenics Corporation has received an order from E.ON for a “Power-to-Gas” project in Germany. The 2 MW energy storage facility, to be located in Falkenhagen in northeast Germany, will use surplus renewable energy sources to produce hydrogen for storage in the country’s existing natural gas pipeline network.

Power-to-Gas is a novel way to store energy at utility scale, whereby surplus electrical grid power is converted into hydrogen gas. The hydrogen gas produced from the Falkenhagen plant—expected to be online in 2013—will be injected into the regional natural gas pipeline, making the natural gas pipeline network a storage system for surplus electrical power generated from renewable resources. While the amount of hydrogen injection is relatively small as a percentage of total pipeline capacity, these small quantities of hydrogen represent significant energy storage capacity and electrical grid support flexibility, Hydrogenics said.

The E.ON project is a turnkey contract, which means Hydrogenics will provide a range of services to build the Power-to-Gas project, including supply, installation, connection and commissioning of the hydrogen production facility including gas compression, master controls, as well as a 5-year service and maintenance agreement.

The electrolysis of water into hydrogen whenever surplus electrical power is available is the optimal pathway to increase the renewable content in the energy system mix. When compared to current utility-scale solutions, Power-to-Gas offers unmatched energy storage capacities. Over a 24 hour period, the Falkenhagen facility will be able to store over 30 MWh of energy.

—Daryl Wilson, President and CEO of Hydrogenics

Germany is a key energy storage player in Europe thanks to its leading position in terms of installed capacity of fluctuating renewables. In 2011, generation from renewable sources in Germany accounted for 20% of total electricity generation. If Germany is to meet its goals of getting a third of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020, at least 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2050, it must find a way to store huge quantities of electricity in order to make up for the intermittency of renewable energy.

The intermittency of wind and solar will make it almost impossible for German electric utilities to provide clean, affordable, and reliable power to industry and consumers, at the high levels of penetration by intermittent renewables that Germany is trying to achieve, Hydrogenics says. Utility-scale energy storage will be a key part of this future German energy plan. According to the German Energy Agency (dena), investments in the two-digit billion range will be required if Germany intends to meet its stated objective of getting a third of its electricity consumption from renewable resources in 2020.



Not a bad way to store excess wind energy.. expensive and inefficient but much easier/cheaper to do than pumped water storage or batteries.


The economics are so bad they rival solar in Germany, which is saying something.


You could probably approach 50% round trip efficiency using electrolysis (~70%) and SOFC CCGT (~70%) which isn't great but if your using the existing gas network as storage you could store a lot of MWh's


Hi 3PS.
AFAIK for a SOFC you are lucky if you get 60% - see recent articles here.
You can hit 70% by electrolysis, but the efficiencies are horrific in the sense that the equipment will be standing idle for most of the time by definition.
I havent't got a clue how much the equipment costs, but that is no way to amortise capital.
If you add that to the truly appalling capacity figures for German wind, around 20%, much, much lower than the US, you end up with financial lunacy.


Agree with Davemart.  Germany is in a fit of denial right now.  What happens is they either go back to burning coal or realize their foolishness and turn their nukes back on.

Roger Pham

Germany could use the money earmarked to bail-out Southern Europe to construct large-scale solar therma--electric power plants in the sunny Mediterranean countries. That will really boost the economies there without any risks of default on future loans. Then, construct HVDC lines to linke those solar electricity sources to Northern Europe. Solar thermal stations can have thermal storage for night-time electricity without interruption.

Excess solar electricity in the summers, springs and winters can be used to make H2 to be stored locally in Northern Europe for winter use and for FCV's and other H2-vehicles. This can allow Europe to be energy independent without the energy stranglehole from the Russian NG pipeline and from Middle East oil, AND solve the economic crisis at the same time. Two payback fer one investment ain't too bad a deal!

It may cost more for energy at the moment, but the cost will come way down with mass production and mass installation, just like HDTV's all other electrical applicances. Since more people will be employed in renewable energy development, the gov. will spend a lot less on social services such as unemployment benefits, the overall cost to society may be the same, since Europe is highly socialistic.

With sufficient renewable energy coming on line from Southern Europe, Germany can really shut down all their nuclear stations by 2020 as planned!

Kit P

Can a country win a Darwin Award?

How about a name the power plant contest? My entry: Hindenburg II

Roger Pham

There have been plenty of NG explosions and gasoline-related explosions...How do we prevent these: better designs and precaution and training and better technology. Must we stop using flammable and explosive fuels just from fear alone?

One certainty remains: Continuation of oil, gas and coal consumption will be suicidal for humanity. Renewable energy economy facilitated by H2 will save humanity!

Kit P

Modern safety and environmental standards demonstrate that energy can be supplied without hurting people or having a significant environmental impact.

I do not have a problem with putting hydrogen into new pipelines that were designed for hydrogen. The problem is 50 year old pipelines. We have seen that in the US. Explosions in the US are often a result of poorly built and poorly maintained systems. Many utilities do not know the current status of large parts of their systems.

In nuke plants we periodically the condition of our piping but if a pipe breaks the radiation is not going to hurt anyone. Pipes carrying reactor coolant are in a thick reinforced concrete building. That hydrogen is being piped to peoples houses.

So Roger if society wants renewable energy that is less safe than nuclear power, that is not my decision. I will point out replacing nukes with renewable energy by storing hydrogen in old pipes is down right stupid.

Roger Pham

You've raised a good point, Kit P. Nuclear energy has demonstrated good safety records, and can be made safer with continual improvement and with measures to guard against weapon proliferation.

Hydrogen is not an energy source, just an energy carrier and a fuel to replace existing fossil fuels that has been causing climate change and environmental pollution. Nuclear energy can be used to generate H2 to fuel the transportation sector. New H2-compatible piping must be installed to make it safe, as well as other sensors and feed-back control mechanism for leak detection.

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