In a press release of 1st July 2015, the German electrolyser plant construction company ETOGAS, reported how it delivered an electrolyser system to a site used by the Austrian energy company RAG Rohöl Aufsuchungs Aktiengeselleschaft in the town of Unterpilsbach in Austria. According to the press release, the equipment consisted of a 40 foot electrolysis container and a 20 foot transformer/ rectifier container.
The statement went on to say: “It will supply hydrogen for the flagship project ‘Underground Sun Storage’, which is managed by RAG. This project is the first to explore the option of storing wind and solar energy in a former natural gas reservoir.”
Electrolyser manufacturers such as ETOGAS and ITM Power, are showing energy companies how solar and wind power generation can become more efficient with the help of energy storage. The key to this process is the electrolyser, which uses the electricity generated from renewable energy sources of solar and wind power to produce hydrogen gas. The gas can either be injected directly into the gas supply network – as is happening at the Thüga Group’s power-to-gas plant at Frankfurt-am-Main, which uses ITM Power’s PEM electrolyser to produce hydrogen – or in the case with RAG’s Underground Sun Storage project, the gas can be stored in an underground storage facility until it is needed at times of peak demand.
These recent developments show how gas from sustainable sources may one day supersede the supply of natural gas and oil from fossil sources. The old argument that wind turbines and solar panels are unreliable as they only produce electricity when it is windy or when the sun is shining has become outdated, because with the conversion and storage of electrical energy as gas, the gas can be turned back into electricity at other times such as on a still day or at night or when there is greater consumer demand. In doing so it will help to cut greenhouse gas emissions and fight climate change.
©Jolyon Gumbrell 2015