Four energy storage projects that could transform Europe

(EurActiv, 29 May 2019) A demonstration plant in Germany that converts wind electricity into hydrogen is probably the most emblematic of a series of pilot projects that could radically transform Europe’s energy landscape in the coming decade.

Back in 2013, German energy utility Uniper achieved a world first – building a power-to-gas plant. Called WindGas, the facility became the first of its kind able to store wind energy in the natural gas grid.

“The name WindGas is because renewable electricity is generated from wind farms,” says Axel Wietfeld, Managing Director of Uniper Energy Storage. “At that time, it was clearly pioneering because it was the first power-to-gas facility in the world,” he told EURACTIV in a phone interview.

In the six years since it started operation, the 2MW capacity alkali-electrolyser at Uniper’s pilot plant has produced more than 8GWh of green hydrogen, Wietfeld says.

The challenge now is to scale up production in order to bring down costs and make green hydrogen competitive. “The focus now should really be on the next steps to scale up power-to-gas production, beyond the pilot projects,” says Wietfeld.

Green hydrogen is a 100% carbon-free source of energy which is widely seen as a central piece of Europe’s future low-carbon energy mix. Using an electrolyser, water is divided into its constituents – hydrogen and oxygen. When the electricity comes from renewables, the hydrogen can be labelled ‘green’ by opposition to ‘grey’ hydrogen which comes from splitting natural gas, a process which releases CO2.

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EurActiv, 29 May 2019: Four energy storage projects that could transform Europe