Thüga Group: Power-to-Hydrogen Gas technology performance update
Thüga Group: Power-to-Hydrogen Gas technology performance update
author Added by FuelCellsWorks, June 13, 2016

ITM Power (AIM: ITM), the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to draw attention to the announcement made by the Thüga group in Germany regarding the operational performance of the ITM Power Power-to-Gas plant purchased by them two years ago.

A full translation of the press release is provided below, the key points of which are summarised here:

  • Primary grid balancing: the plant successfully concluded tests for primary grid balancing
  • Economic operation: higher revenues accessible from primary grid balancing
  • Smart Grid compatible: operating as part of a virtual network via a real time control unit
  • Continues to exceed expectations: over two years of rigorous testing

Thüga Group: Power-to-Gas technology also suitable for primary balancing energy market

“Our tests have shown that the power-to-gas technology is able to provide primary balancing services,” Michael Riechel, CEO of Thüga Aktiengesellschaft said. In May this year the Thüga Group successfully subject its power-to-Gas plant in Frankfurt to the prequalification profile for primary balancing – the so-called “duel bump test”. The plant was tested to see if it meets the dynamic response requirements and accuracy for primary energy market balancing.

In order to take part in the primary balancing market the entire load being offered must be reached within 30 seconds and be continuously available for at least 15 minutes. The system was programmed and operated according to a load profile in single second resolution that reflects the frequency fluctuations in a real electricity distribution network. This operation simulated practical conditions in order to compensate for frequency variations in the electrical grid. “These findings show that the power-to-gas plant could be operated economically, since the potential revenues for primary balancing are higher,” Riechel said. The plant was prequalified for secondary balancing in 2015.

Two years of operation has yielded important insights for power-to-gas
Riechel commented: “In the two years since starting up our power-to-gas plant, we have demonstrated the practicality of this technology”. In 2013 Thüga’s power to gas-plant was the first nationwide to use electrolysis to convert electricity into hydrogen and feed this into the gas distribution network. This deployment of PEM (proton exchange membrane) electrolysis within a power-to-gas application was also a novel use of a PEM electrolyser.

According to Phil Doran, the Managing Director of ITM Power GmbH, the manufacturer of the system “It was the world’s first of its kind, in which the technology has been put to use”. A comprehensive stress test undertaken last year verified the system’s efficiency of over 70 percent (based on the higher heating value). Thus, the plant has exceeded the expectations of the 13 project partners of the Thüga Group. Moreover, the plant is smart-grid compatible: With the help of a newly developed real-time control unit, working within a virtual network connecting other plant, the system intelligently modulated the differences between electricity generation and consumption. This capability is essential for the deployment of power-to-gas technology in storing large volumes of energy, as the technology serves its purpose only when it responds automatically to constantly changing conditions in the production and consumption of energy.

In the energy sector itself, the plant has met with keen interest and acclaim. In 2015 the Association of Municipal Companies (VKU) presented the Thüga project partners with the Special Award for Cooperation. The jury particularly honoured the pioneering nature of the plant.  “It represents a role model for the energy sector, as the project partners have already demonstrated the integration of power-to-gas technology in municipal distribution networks and supports the creation of economic and political framework conditions,” said Ivo Gönner, VKU President.

The Power-to-Gas Project platform:
13 Thüga Group companies have pooled their know-how and capital in a project platform to jointly invest in the development of power-to-gas storage technology. The focus is on testing the practicality of the technology. The companies are convinced that this has the greatest potential long term to store excess volumes of renewable energy. To this end, the companies have jointly developed, built and operated their own demonstration plant for several years (2012 – 2016) in Frankfurt. The plant converts power into hydrogen, which is then stored in the gas distribution network. In total, they will invest over €1.5m. The project is funded by the Hessian Ministry of Economics, Energy, Transport and Regional Development and the European Union. Following the first phase, the project partners are considering a second project, in which carbon dioxide will be combined with hydrogen to form synthetic methane and be subsequently stored.