E.ON is investing 5 million euros to develop a pilot plant in Falkenhagen, Germany, to convert power from wind energy into hydrogen, which can then be stored on the country's gas grid.
Beginning in 2013, the plant will use power from renewable energy sources to produce about 360 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour through electrolysis. The hydrogen will be fed into the Ontras gas pipeline system and be used like normal natural gas. This makes the gas grid a storage system for power from weather-dependent renewables.
At present, up to 5% hydrogen can be added to the natural-gas grid without any problems, and experts expect that up to 15% could be added in the medium term, according to E.ON. This means that today's entire renewable power output could be stored in the German gas grid, according to E.ON.
However, demand for capacity on this scale will only arise over the coming decades, when most of generated power comes from renewable energy, the company adds.
‘We need new storage capacities so that we can further increase the share of weather-dependent wind power in our generation portfolio in coming years," says Klaus-Dieter Maubach, member of the E.ON AG board of management.