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Mon Apr 1, 2019, 11:11 PM

Europe Stores Electricity in Gas Pipes

Europe Stores Electricity in Gas Pipes

Converting excess wind and solar power into hydrogen can extend renewable energy’s reach

By Peter Fairley on April 1, 2019

Last month Denmark’s biggest energy firm, Ørsted, said wind farms it is proposing for the North Sea will convert some of their excess power into gas. Electricity flowing in from offshore will feed on-shore electrolysis plants that split water to produce clean-burning hydrogen, with oxygen as a by-product. That would supply a new set of customers who need energy, but not as electricity. And it would take some strain off of Europe’s power grid as it grapples with an ever-increasing share of hard-to-handle renewable power.

Turning clean electricity into energetic gases such as hydrogen or methane is an old idea that is making a comeback as renewable power generation surges. That is because gases can be stockpiled within the natural gas distribution system to cover times of weak winds and sunlight. They can also provide concentrated energy to replace fossil fuels for vehicles and industries. Although many U.S. energy experts argue that this “power-to-gas” vision may be prohibitively expensive, some of Europe’s biggest industrial firms are buying in to the idea.

European power equipment manufacturers, anticipating a wave of renewable hydrogen projects such as Ørsted’s, vowed in January that all of their gas-fired turbines will be certified by next year to run on up to 20 percent hydrogen, which burns faster than methane-rich natural gas. The natural gas distributors, meanwhile, have said they will use hydrogen to help them fully de-carbonize Europe’s gas supplies by 2050.

Converting power to gas is picking up steam in Europe because the region has more consistent and aggressive climate policies. Most U.S. states have goals to clean up some fraction of their electricity supply; coal- and gas-fired plants contribute a little more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. In contrast, European countries are counting on carbon reductions of 80 percent or more by midcentury—reductions that will require an economywide switch to low-carbon energy.

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Reply Europe Stores Electricity in Gas Pipes (Original post)
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2019 OP
mr_lebowski Apr 2019 #1
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2019 #3
hunter Apr 2019 #2
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2019 #4
OKIsItJustMe Apr 2019 #5

Response to OKIsItJustMe (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 11:38 PM

1. Is this actually efficient? Takes a LOT of electricity to break H2O bonds ...

Plus the size and reactivity of the H2 molecule makes it very difficult to contain.

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Response to mr_lebowski (Reply #1)

Wed Apr 3, 2019, 08:22 AM

3. Well, obviously, Europeans are stupid...

They would never think of these issues.

Clearly, they must not be doing it!

Many European pilot projects are demonstrating “methanation” equipment that converts hydrogen to methane, too, which can be used as a drop-in replacement for natural gas. Europe’s electrolyzer plants, however, are showing that methanation is not as critical to the power-to-gas vision as advocates long believed. Many electrolyzers are injecting their hydrogen directly into natural gas pipelines—something that U.S. gas firms forbid—and they are doing so without impacting either the gas infrastructure or natural gas consumers.

Europe’s first large-scale hydrogen injection began in eastern Germany in 2013 at a two-megawatt electrolyzer installed by Essen-based power firm E.ON. Germany has since ratcheted up the amount of hydrogen it allows in natural gas lines from an initial 2 percent by volume to 10 percent, and other European states have followed suit with their own hydrogen allowances. Christopher Hebling, head of hydrogen technologies at the Freiburg-based Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems, predicts that such limits will rise to the 20-percent level anticipated by Europe’s turbine manufacturers.

Hydrogen Storage Could Be Key to Germany's Energy Plans
No other means of storing energy may be able to reach the scale required to run Germany on solar and wind power.

by Kevin Bullis | March 29, 2012

If Germany is to meet its ambitious goals of getting a third of its electricity from renewable energy by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050, it must find a way to store huge quantities of electricity in order to make up for the intermittency of renewable energy.

Siemens says it has just the technology: electrolyzer plants, each the size of a large warehouse, that split water to make hydrogen gas. The hydrogen could be used when the wind isn’t blowing to generate electricity in gas-fired power plants, or it could be used to fuel cars.

Producing hydrogen is an inefficient way to store energy—about two-thirds of the power is lost in the processes of making the hydrogen and using the hydrogen to generate electricity. But Siemens says it’s the only storage option that can achieve the scale that’s going to be needed in Germany.

Unlike conventional industrial electrolyzers, which need a fairly steady supply of power to efficiently split water, Siemens’s new design is flexible enough to run on intermittent power from wind turbines. It’s based on proton-exchange membrane technology similar to that used in fuel cells for cars, which can operate at widely different power levels. The electrolyzers can also temporarily operate at two to three times their rated power levels, which could be useful for accommodating surges in power on windy days.

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Original post)

Tue Apr 2, 2019, 03:16 PM

2. I'll assume they'll compare the amount of hydrogen going into the pipes to what comes out.

Hydrogen is difficult to contain and it also increases NOx emissions.

Hybrid wind/gas energy is not going to save the world, with or without kludges like this.

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Response to hunter (Reply #2)

Wed Apr 3, 2019, 08:27 AM

4. (Stupid Europeans...)

My God! (unlike Very Stable Geniuses in America) they even think renewable energy works!

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Response to OKIsItJustMe (Original post)

Sat Apr 27, 2019, 07:46 PM

5. The real renewable energy storage solution

The real renewable energy storage solution

Dr. Jack Brouwer, then- associate director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center explains how UC Irvine pumping hydrogen into the existing natural gas pipelines on Wednesday, November 2, 2016. (Photo by Nick Agro, Orange County Register/SCNG)

By Jack Brouwer | PUBLISHED: April 27, 2019 at 1:35 pm | UPDATED: April 27, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Right here at UC Irvine, we’re doing a little science experiment that could make a big difference for countries around the globe as they look for ways to replace fossil fuels and stop climate change. This experiment is focused on how to store extra solar energy.

Just as in all of California, on sunny days our campus solar panels make more electricity than we can use. But we need that extra electricity at night or during rainy periods when the sun isn’t shining. What’s the problem, you say — can’t you just charge up some batteries during those sunny days and draw from them when it’s dark or rainy? That might be possible for one campus, but statewide, and certainly globally, traditional batteries can never be the main solution for renewable energy storage.

That’s why I’m concerned when I hear claims that the way to a zero-carbon future is to “electrify everything” and support the state’s energy needs with only sunshine, wind and batteries. Far too many people have been misled into believing that this is the entire solution — and many of our state agencies and legislators have bought in. This could take our state down a risky path of relying only on electric power without alternate forms of clean energy, and with an electric grid that can never become fully clean.

Solar, wind and batteries can only partly solve the world’s (or even just California’s) climate change and air quality problems. Here’s why:

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