ITM Power launching enhanced Power-to-Gas range; two new reference plants in Germany
21 January 2015
ITM Power will launch an enhanced Power-to-Gas product range based on a higher current density that produces 50% more hydrogen for the same stack volume in April at the 2015 Hannover Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Group Exhibit. The company will launch its new 350 kW single stack with a three stack 1MW system on show and for sale. ITM Power now has £8.686 million (US$13.2 million) of projects under contract and a further £2.496 million (US$3.8) of new projects subject to final contract negotiation. This reflects the successful conclusion of a number of negotiations and the receipt of revenue for existing projects.
Recognizing the market pull for ever larger electrolyzer systems for Power-to-Gas energy storage, ITM Power has brought to fruition two key technical initiatives in order to better meet the requirements of widespread uptake.
The first is an ability to generate up to 50% more hydrogen from the existing, self-pressurizing HGas stack platform. This is achieved by utilizing a higher current density, the key parameter in PEM stack cost reduction, helping to reduce electrolyzer capacity cost significantly.
The second is a larger stack module capable of absorbing up to 350 kW of power. The larger cell area coupled with 25% more cells per stack represents a beneficial plant simplification while permitting multi-MW installations to occupy smaller sites. The drastically reduced footprint helps alleviate siting challenges, where space is highly valued, for both energy storage and hydrogen refueling applications.
The major Power-to-Gas energy storage adoption markets today are Germany and the US. ITM Power announced two new reference plant sales in Germany to two Technical Universities; both orders are based on the HPac platform for use in Power-to-Gas applications.
The reference plant is particularly important for ITM Power in the German market and with those organizations which advise the Germany Energy Ministry. ITM Power will have four reference plant installations in Germany, including those announced here.
The market need for Power-to-gas energy storage in Germany has recently been outlined in a number of high profile reports. “Electricity Storage in the German Energy Transition”, by Agora Energiewende, identifies a requirement in Germany for electrolysis (for the Power-to-Gas, Power-to-Liquids and hydrogen mobility markets) of up to 16GW, 80GW and 130GW by the years 2023, 2033 and 2050 respectively.
This is confirmed by the report, “Power-to-Gas in Transport” (a report to the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure by DLR, Berlin) which estimates the markets in Germany for Power-to-Hydrogen and Power-to-SNG, in mobility applications alone, as each reaching up to 140 TWh per annum by 2050.
I'd sooner use nuclear, but if you want a lot of renewables, you need a lot of storage, and that is all there is to it.
Posted by: Davemart | 21 January 2015 at 03:49 AM
'Available simulations of the electricity grid modelling different levels
of renewable energy
utilisation reveal a requirement for long
term storage of electricity only in the case of high
shares of renewable energies (from approx. 60-70%) [VDE
2012], [DLR2012], [NEP2013].
However, these models are based on simplified assumptions (e.g. grid modelled as a copper plate, focus on transmission network level, sole consideration of the electricity sector excluding links to other consumer sectors such as fuel production for transport)
(PtG for Transport, pg 23)
'This study established high-energy density gases and hydrogen in particular as the only storage means with
sufficient potential for the storage of substantial quantities of excess electricity production over periods of several weeks.}'
Don't get me wrong, I still think that way the most cost effective way of achieving low carbon emissions is if Germany simply built out around a hundred nuclear power stations, which would mean that BEVs would be far more efficient as the power would actually be there when needed.
So I am not really a fuel cell advocate, but I am an advocate of arithmetic which adds up, and lots and lots of renewables without hydrogen/methane doesn't.
Since I am not in a position to order nuclear plant built and it is not happening in the West, then fuel cells and hydrogen it has to be.
Posted by: Davemart | 21 January 2015 at 06:02 AM
Excellent conclusion DM.
This is a good demo of what early generation equipment can do. Post 2020-2025 systems will do even better at a lower cost.
Excess e-storage, specially for extended periods, is essential for energy security, regardless of production sources.
Affordable scallable storage systems will make REs competitive very soon and will contribute to accelerated phase out of polluting CPPs, NGPPs and current NPPs.
Posted by: HarveyD | 21 January 2015 at 07:18 AM
This would be good to make carbon free H2 to replace home natural gas.
Posted by: GdB | 21 January 2015 at 08:53 AM
This would be good to make carbon free H2 to replace home natural gas.
Considering the things you use natural gas for in the home shouldn't you think about forgoing using it by using energy efficient design or RE directly? Can you add more insulation? Putt solar water heaters on the roof? A heat pump can provide both space and water heating.
Posted by: ai_vin | 21 January 2015 at 09:50 AM
What I meant by the post above: The problem of using natural gas in the home is that you are using a high grade energy source to make low grade heat. NG has a flame temperature of 900–1,500 degrees C but you're using it to keep your house at 20 C and your hot water at 60 C.
Posted by: ai_vin | 21 January 2015 at 04:11 PM
I have to break with DaveMart above. Even Germany will run out of money before they can make the country work on fuel cells and hydrogen. If they insist on being a poster-country of devastating mistakes for the second time in a century, I cannot stop them.
Posted by: Engineer-Poet | 21 January 2015 at 06:38 PM
As I noted above, if it were up to me, I would certainly simply build out ~100 nuclear reactors in Germany, and solve carbon emissions economically at a stroke.
Under such a scenario, fuel cells would have a minor part to play.
Unfortunately neither of us is in charge, so I try to work out how to work things as realistically as possible within the real constraints.
My argument is essentially with those who think that loads of renewables can be used in the grid without recourse to hydrogen, and hence fuel cells.
This is another case of willing the ends without the means, just like being concerned about climate change but vehemently opposing nuclear, the best and surest means to massively reduce greenhouse gases.
And I am starting to be more optimistic about renewables.
Germany is pretty much a worst case, with a large population in the high latitudes.
Looking at the case of the US with massively greater solar and wind resources the whole thing becomes much more do-able.
It would be far more expensive than using nuclear at least for much of the baseload, but perhaps within the realms of the technologically feasible.
We also can't preclude direct solar to hydrogen, which would of course be transformational.
So instead of Germans putting solar panels on their roofs, solar arrays would be in the very best locations in the world, at around twice the efficiency per metre.
They have some interesting figures in the link I reference above, on the excess energy costs of methanation, which at 10% seems very do-able.
I don't have figures for the cost on top of that of turning that into liquids, but the outlines of a perhaps possible, although highly speculative, energy supply system emerge.
There would also seem to be a pretty fair chance that opposition to nuclear will soften, so at least the burden of baseload and a huge energy requirement would be dealt with by other means, and reduce the need for hydrogen from renewables to far more manageable proportions.
Posted by: Davemart | 22 January 2015 at 01:34 AM
Real progress is being made on home fuel cells.
That makes use of the otherwise waste heat from electricity generation to provide hot water in the home, taking in natural gas and reforming it in the home:
'ENE-FARM Type S utilizes ceramic electrolyte for the power generating cell stack which achieves a high operating temperature of 700 to 750 degrees Celsius. This high temperature heat can be efficiently used as energy to reform utility gas to hydrogen and thus a high power generation efficiency level of 46.5% is achieved — with an overall energy efficiency of 90.0%*2. '
For the US the current average efficiency of natural gas burn is around 42%:
Have a look under: 'historical efficiencies' for 2012, and divide the BTU/kwh by 3412 for efficiency.
It is so much lower than the theoretical efficiencies of a CGT because they are usually only used part of the time, instead of for baseload, and so the cheaper simple cycle units are usually used.
Many also run all the time without producing power, 'spinning reserve' so that they can rapidly fire up if, for instance, a cloud passes over the sun, which causes a very rapid drop in output for solar, as do gusts and flukes in the wind.
On top of that there are transmission losses, around 6% in the US.
So home fuel cells would double the efficiency of gas use, and fit in well with home solar.
Rooftops residential and industrial in the US if used for solar could provide around 20% of electrical power needs.
Nuclear currently provides around 19%.
NG provides 30%, so doubling that to 60% gives us, with solar on rooftops and nuclear, an EXTREMELY theoretical 100% coverage for US electric power needs, with the 12% of US power currently provided by renewables, mainly hydro with some wind, to pull things back to something more closely resembling reality, but still without recourse to coal.
None of these very theoretical 'cunning plans' will of course come about in detail, but they serve to indicate that real progress is possible, and the potential of home fuel cells to help.
Incidentally if you are charging a BEV at night as most do, currently at the average efficiency of the US grid, and as it happens the figures work out similarly if one only considers the fossil fuel bits or the whole grid, which is just a fortuitous circumstance, then after transmission losses you charge it at around 33% efficiency.
If you charged is using a home fuel cell, then you hit electrical plus thermal efficiency of 90%!
Battery cars work so much better if fuel cells are part of the equation, one way or the other.
Posted by: Davemart | 22 January 2015 at 01:59 AM