Germany’s Minister of Economics and Technology, Sigmar Gabriel, together with representatives of power utility Stadtwerke Mainz AG, Siemens AG, The Linde Group and RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, inaugurated the construction of the Energiepark Mainz. Starting next year, the jointly developed pilot plant will produce major quantities of hydrogen using electricity from renewable sources, mostly from nearby wind power stations.
This hydrogen can be stored, loaded into tank trailers or fed directly into the natural gas grid, for use in generating heat or electricity. This makes it possible to store electricity from renewable energy sources. The growing network of hydrogen filling stations for emission-free fuel cell-powered vehicles can also be supplied from Mainz by tank trailers.
The project’s aim is to further develop and test innovative technologies for hydrogen electrolysis using renewable energy sources.
Wind and solar power stations currently have to be switched off at times due to insufficient capacity of the energy grid. This will probably happen even more often in the future. At the new energy park, however, this “surplus” sustainable electricity can be stored in the form of hydrogen and used later, according to the actual power demand.
Around €17 million (US$23 million) are being invested to realize the energy park, with support coming from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology as part of its “Energy Storage Funding Initiative”.
At the heart of the research facility will be the electrolysis hall, featuring a hydrogen electrolysis system developed by Siemens. The potential power intake of 6 megawatts makes it the world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis facility using modern PEM technology. This puts the plant in Mainz in an appropriate performance category to ease bottlenecks in the distribution network.
Within this project, Linde is responsible for hydrogen purification, compression, storage and filling. The features of Linde’s proprietary ionic compression technology will enable a very energy-efficient compression and a highly flexible plant operation.
The RheinMain University of Applied Sciences is in charge of the project’s scientific aspects. The findings from the research project will be utilized and assessed as part of at least one doctoral thesis.