Power-to-gas in which electricity is converted into gaseous energy is envisaged as a potential option for longer term large scale storage of excess power from renewables such as wind and solar.
The technology uses electrolyzer-based methods to make hydrogen gas by breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen can then be used as an energy source for vehicles, micro-turbines, fuel cells or other equipment or alternatively converted in combination with carbon dioxide to synthetic, renewable methane which can then be stored to meet future energy needs.
Commercial scale power-to-gas
While commercial scale power-to-gas systems are already in use in Germany, the technologies – such as Biocat [Engerati-Biocat Power-To-Gas Project - A Potential Energy Storage Gamechanger?] – are still undergoing development to improve their cost effectiveness. With the aim to investigate commercial power-to-gas in the US, Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) is partnering with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) to launch the first demonstration projects in that country.
“A power-to-gas system can help California meet environmentally-focused energy goals and solve a major energy challenge facing our nation: how to cost-effectively store excess power from renewables to meet energy demands when the wind does not blow or the sun does not shine,” said Patrick Lee , senior vice president, customer service, innovation and business strategy for SoCalGas.
California is expected to produce 33% of its electricity from renewable sources within five years, increasing to 50% by 2030.
The power-to-gas demonstrations will be located at the NFCRC at the University of California, Irvine and NREL's laboratories in Golden, Colorado. They will also assess the feasibility and potential benefits of using the existing natural gas pipeline system to store photovoltaic and wind-produced energy.
The project is also expected to provide valuable data on the dynamics of hydrogen production in a system flush with renewable electricity. Initial project results are expected by year end.
Power-to-gas for ancillary services
In the first round of storage allocations last year Ontario’s Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) selected power-to-gas as one of the technologies to demonstrate the provision of ancillary services including frequency regulation service and reactive support and voltage control service. [Engerati-Ontario System Operator Procures 34MW Storage To Test In Grid Operation]
In this project a facility providing 2MW of energy storage capacity is being developed in the Greater Toronto Area, with Hydrogenics supplying the next-generation PEM electrolyzers and Enbridge Inc. developing, building and operating the facility.