The network operators Tennet, Gasunie and Thyssengas want to promote the storage of renewable energies in gas networks. For the large-scale industrial use of so-called power-to-gas technology (“electricity to gas”), they want to build a 100 megawatt plant in East Frisia, as a Tennet spokeswoman announced.
This technology uses green electricity to generate hydrogen or methane gas. Unlike electricity, both can be flexibly transported and stored. It thus makes up for a disadvantage of renewable energies. Because these are weather-dependent when they are fed into the grid and are therefore not always available.
The pilot system is to start with a first module in 2022, after which a new module is to be added every second year until 2028. It can be used as a fuel in traffic, as a fuel for generating heat and electricity, or as a raw material in industry. The city of Weener and the municipality of Wiefelstede come into consideration as locations. There are Tennet substations there, which mainly bundle and distribute offshore wind power from the North Sea. With the pilot project, the companies want to gain initial experience with such systems on an industrial scale.
The planned investments in the latest project would be in the low three-digit million range, said the Tennet spokeswoman. According to the information, the companies are already in talks with the authorities at the municipal and state level. The background is also public acceptance problems for a further network expansion – because gas could be transported via the existing lines. “If we can store large amounts of renewable electricity, we relieve the power grid,” said Tennet managing director Lex Hartman. “For the period after 2030, more storage of green electricity also means less additional grid expansion.”
Theoretically, the entire German gas network of around 400,000 kilometers of pipeline with numerous underground gas storage facilities would be ready to transport the gas. Better storage options are an important prerequisite for the connection of electricity, heat and transport – the so-called sector coupling in the energy sector. In the future, hydrogen filling stations for the mobility of corresponding vehicles and the industrial sector are also to be supplied.
According to the organizers of the latest project, the conversion of green electricity into “green” gas has not yet been tackled on this scale. In total, however, almost three dozen projects are known that deal with the production of fuel on the basis of green electricity in different approaches. The subsidiary, for example, already operates a “Power to Gas” plant in Emsland near Werlte, which can be used to produce 1,500 cars in a climate-neutral manner.
Gasunie Deutschland Transport Services, based in Hanover, is responsible for the management, operation and expansion of a pipeline network of around 3800 kilometers in northern Germany. Thyssengas, based in Dortmund, is a group-independent gas network operator that maintains a gas transport network of around 4,000 kilometers. The transmission system operator Tennet supplies around 41 million end users in Germany and the Netherlands with 23,000 kilometers of high-voltage lines.