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RWE launches power-to-gas plant

RWE has officially in Germany its power-to-gas plant in the NRW location of Ibbenbüren. (Earlier post.) Superfluous electricity from renewable sources is converted into hydrogen so it can be stored within the natural gas network. It can then be recalled from there at a later date for use in electricity production. RWE said it sees this power-to-gas process as one of the key technologies for tomorrow’s energy supply.

A central element of the power-to-gas plant is an electrolyzer the size of a shipping container, which was built by the UK firm, ITM Power. The electrolyzer converts any power from renewable sources such as solar panels or wind turbines that is not immediately required into hydrogen.

The hydrogen is then mixed into the natural gas network via a gas pressure regulation station where the waste heat of the electrolyzer is also utilized. In times of low renewable power production, the previously stored natural gas can be siphoned off from the storage facility and used in a co-generation plant within the RWE district heating network in Ibbenbüren to generate power.

The combined heat and power generation system used there also leads to much better power utilization. The power-to-gas plant of RWE in Ibbenbüren has a rated power output of 150 kilowatts and creates hydrogen under 14-bar pressure.



Very smart those Germans. This could be done in most places where REs are often in short repetitive surplus situation, to make sure that all (100%) of REs produced are effectively used.


How does the efficiency compare with a flow-battery?

At only 150 kilowatts, this seems like publicity gimmick.


It's just the beginning. They are bound to ramp it up.


This is crazy. Their round-trip efficiency is at best 50%. (60% in a combined cycle plant to make electricity and 80% at electrolysis.) I think real-world they would much more likely get less than 40%.

They're better off making it into liquid fuels which they can sell back to consumers with over 60% tax on the cost.

Mannstein, they'd better ramp up real quick or in a few years they're expensive RE will be dumped all over Europe at zero or negative cost.

It really looks like a slow motion disaster that almost everyone in Germany seems unworried about. I guess I must be wrong...


Yup, this is crazy. If and when there is "Superfluous electricity from renewable sources", it would make more sense to pump water uphill and then generate hydro power. In Germany, they could first quit burning peat (which has to be worse than burning coal) and then they could quit burning coal. Or failing that, they could just store the existing water and use more hydro at night or when the wind is not blowing.

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