Thüga Group’s P2G plant exceeds expectations

11th February 2015

ITM Power (AIM: ITM), the energy storage and clean fuel company, notes the announcement made by the Thüga Group in Germany yesterday following completion of a series of comprehensive stress tests on the ITM Power PEM electrolyser Power-to-Gas plant, operational in Frankfurt, Germany.

The full text of the announcement appears below:
• Initial stress tests results are now available to Thüga Group members
• Overall efficiency is over 70 per cent.
• The plant will participate in the secondary control (grid balancing) market

Munich / Frankfurt: “The efficiency of our Power-to-Gas plant has exceeded expectations,” Michael Riechel, CEO of Thüga Aktiengesellschaft said with reference to the initial results of a series of comprehensive stress tests. In its relevant load range, that is between 50 and around 325 kilowatts, the entire system recorded – from the electrical input to gas injection in the distribution grid – an efficiency of up to 77 per cent., based on the higher heating value of hydrogen. “One reason for the high efficiency is the fact that we are feeding directly into the gas distribution network and thus have eliminated the need for a compressor,” Riechel explained.

Together with the European Institute for Energy Research and DVGW Research at the Engler-Bunte-Institute, the Thüga P2G Platform is currently carrying out a series of stress tests. The variables being analysed include efficiency, control speed, load behaviour and gas quality. “The results are particularly interesting given the system is the first nationwide plant to convert electricity into hydrogen, which is subsequently injected into the gas distribution network. This is also a new field of application for the core of the system, the proton exchange membrane electrolyser,” Riechel said. During the planned operation of the plant the stress tests will be repeated on two further occasions.

System is suitable for use in the balancing market
The reaction speed of ITM Power’s electrolyser has already produced positive results, which allow the unit to be powered up and down extremely quickly. The system can react to variable loads in the network and fulfils the requirement to participate in the market for secondary control (grid balancing). This means that where there is too much power in the electricity grid, the electrolyser can increase its output at the request of the transmission system operator. The plant then absorbs the power and converts it into hydrogen. In doing so, the electrolyser makes a contribution to the stability of the power grid. The pre- qualification process for participation in the market for secondary control is already underway.

Integration of the plant into an intelligent energy system
In addition to the analysis of the system during its operational phase (2014 – 2016), a further focal point is how the plant can be integrated into an increasingly intelligent future energy system. “For the duration of the demonstration, we want to integrate the plant so that it actively contributes to compensating for the differences between renewable energy generation and power consumption,” Riechel said. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems is developing software for real-time control.

The gas distribution network as the “Battery of the Future
According to a Thüga analysis, energy storage requirements could reach 17 Terawatt hours (TWh) by 2020 and could be as high as 50 TWh by 2050. The gas distribution network can easily absorb these quantities. Riechel is convinced that, “Our gas distribution network could therefore be the battery of the future”. For Power-to-Gas storage technology to realise its full potential and achieve market maturity, while still in the testing and commercialisation phase, we need state support in the form of investment grants for a limited time only. The Thüga P2G Platform’s demonstration project is supported by the Hessian Ministry of Economy, Energy, Transport and Regional Development and the European Union.

Full German text of the announcement:

System efficiency as a function of power input measured by the Thüga Group:

Rebecca Markillie
Marketing & Communications
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