Denmark’s Excess Wind Power Harnessed with Power-to-Gas Solution

Commercial-scale €6.7 million power-to-gas project will help Denmark optimise its wind power.
Published: Tue 01 Jul 2014

The pan-European BioCat Consortium has announced the launch of its commercial scale power-to-gas demonstration project in Denmark. The 1 MW facility will use excess wind energy to produce pipeline-grade renewable gas for storage in the Danish natural gas grid. Key stakeholders will give an update on this project in our upcoming webcast BioCat Project update - power to gas via biological catalysis.

This is good news for a country that now gets almost 25% of its electricity from wind power and aims to double that number to 50% by 2020. In recent years, when surpluses have been generated, Denmark has actually paid other countries to take the excess power supply (much like the situation in West Texas, where surpluses of wind occasionally result in negative pricing for short periods).

Located at the wastewater treatment plant Avedøre in Copenhagen, the BioCat project has an overall budget of DKK 49.9 million (€6.7 million) and is supported by ForskEL, a technology demonstration support scheme administered by Energinet.dk, the operator of the Danish power and gas transmission grids.

Once operational, it will be the largest power-to-gas facility based on biological methanation in the world.

Power to gas-a powerful solution

Power-to-Gas is an innovative energy storage technology capable of storing large amounts of excess electricity produced in energy systems with high penetration of intermittent renewables (mainly wind and solar energy). By converting electrical energy to chemical energy in the form of methane, energy can be injected into the existing natural gas infrastructure to a practically unlimited extent.

“Once in the grid, the renewable gas can be stored for long periods of time, transported geographically via existing pipelines, and used for power production, in transportation, or for heating applications in households and industry. As such, power-to-gas represents a powerful solution, not only for the energy storage challenge but also for decarbonising the transportation sector”, explains Mich Hein, CEO of Electrochaea.

Project objectives

The main objective of the project “Power-to-Gas via Biological Catalysis (P2G-BioCat)” is to design, engineer, construct, and test a 1-MW power-to-gas facility at the wastewater treatment plant Avedøre in Copenhagen, Denmark. During 3,000 hours of operation, the facility will use wind energy produced in times of low power demand to produce hydrogen by means of water electrolysis. This hydrogen is then combined with carbon dioxide and converted by microorganisms to methane, the principal component of natural gas. After this methanation step, the renewable gas will be injected into a low-pressure gas distribution grid supplying the greater Copenhagen area.

“The facility will be operated according to an optimized trading strategy developed with a view toward maximizing value capture and mimicking the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy”, explains Dominic Hofstetter, BioCat Project Manager and VP of Business Development at Electrochaea.

Additional project objectives include the delivery of frequency regulation services to the Danish power grid and the recycling of heat and oxygen in the on-site wastewater treatment processes.

Kim Behnke, Head of Environment, Research and Development at Energinet.dk, remarks: “We finally have the ability to link Denmark’s abundant wind resource with its modern gas infrastructure by producing eco-friendly gas from wind energy. This integration is quite necessary for transforming our energy system and phasing out coal, oil and natural gas in the long term.”

Gas production is expected to begin by the middle of 2015 and the project is anticipated to conclude by December 2015. If successful, the BioCat Project will lift the technology to market readiness and allow for market introduction by the beginning of 2016.