Energinet explores PtG potentials

22.05.2019

The generation of renewable energy is volatile and the storage of green electricity at times when production exceeds consumption is an ever-increasing challenge for energy market participants. Power to gas (PtG) technologies appear to be particularly effective in compensating for the weather-related volatility of the renewables. Since TSCNET shareholder Energinet is not only the Danish transmission system operator (TSO) for electricity, but also for gas, the company is ideally suited to profoundly evaluate the PtG potential. The Danish national energy goal is a 100% climate-neutral energy system by 2050, and PtG can play an important role in achieving it.

Energinet’s gas grid could be an essential tool for the transmission of solar and wind energy in Denmark’s energy system of the future, as the energy can be stored and transported in the gas pipelines with hydrogen as the energy carrier. To this end, the electricity is converted into hydrogen, which can then be mixed with natural gas. The TSO is currently testing how much hydrogen the gas grid can handle. The tests take place near the West Jutland town of Varde and are part of the “Hydrogen Injection in the Gas Grid” project, in which Energinet is cooperating with the Danish Gas Technology Centre and IRD Fuel Cells.

The gas in the pipelines near Varde is presently mixed with 12% hydrogen, the research target is 15%. At the beginning of the tests in summer 2017, it was only 2%, so the results are promising. „Using hydrogen as an energy carrier allows us to connect the electricity and gas sectors,“ explains Jesper Bruun, project manager at Energinet, and adds: „Once we are able to handle the hydrogen in the gas grid, we will have an extensive and efficient infrastructure in place for transport and storage.“

Energinet is exploring PtG technologies (picture: Energinet)

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Map of German PtG plants

25.04.2019

With Power-to-Gas (PtG) technologies, sustainable electricity can be converted into gas and then stored in the existing gas infrastructure, transported and provided as needed – independent of the natural volatility of wind and solar energy. Forecasts up to 2050 indicate that comprehensive and effective climate protection is not possible without PtG. The “Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches” (German Association of the Gas and Water Sector – DVGW), an independent technical-scientific network for all questions related to gas and water supply, has published an updated map giving an overview of all PtG projects in Germany, including both completed and planned facilities.

The DGWV map shows that the number of PtG plants in Germany as well as their installed capacity is constantly increasing compared to previous statistics. 35 PtG plants are currently in operation with a total capacity of around 30MW. However, most of them are pilot or demonstration projects on a small scale and serve research purposes. Industrial-scale plants are still the exception, also for the 16 projects in planning.

Nevertheless, total PtG capacity will increase significantly in the future (estimated at 273MW), mainly due to two 100MW projects being implemented by two TSCNET shareholders: Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and the Dutch-German TSO TenneT are pursuing the two most powerful sector coupling projects currently underway in Germany: “hybridge” and “ELEMENT ONE” which are planned at two different sites in the German federal state of Lower Saxony. According to current planning, “ELEMENT ONE” will be gradually operational by 2022 and “hybridge” will be fully operational by 2023.

The German gas and water sector association DVGW has published an upgraded map of PtG facilities in Germany (picture: edited screenshot of video “Power to Gas” by Thyssengas)

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> See DVGW press release, in German (html)
> Open PtG Plant Map, in German (pdf, 752kb)
> Visit hybridge website, in German (html)
> Visit ELEMENT ONE website, in German (html)

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PtG pilot plants on an industrial scale

29.03.2019

Power-to-Gas (PtG) technologies have the potential to compensate for the weather-related volatility of renewable energies. More specifically, PtG can be used to convert sustainable electricity into gas (green hydrogen or methane), so that the gas infrastructure is additionally available for the transport and storage of electricity from renewable sources. The TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs), and TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO, are taking the next important step towards implementing the two most powerful sector coupling projects currently underway in Germany: “hybridge” and “ELEMENT ONE”.

The respective gas transmission partners of Amprion and TenneT are Open Grid Europe for the “hybridge” project and Gasunie and Thyssengas for ELEMENT ONE. Both PTG plants are to convert up to 100MW of electrical power into gas. Their construction is planned at two different sites in the German federal state of Lower Saxony, each close to wind power generation centres and well-developed gas infrastructure.

The grid operators have submitted the necessary investment applications for both projects on 29 March to the Bundesnetzagentur (German Federal Network Agency). If the Agency gives the green light, ELEMENT ONE will be gradually operational by 2022 and hybridge will be fully functional by 2023. Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, comments on the application, that major PtG projects must now be pushed forward, “if we want to use PtG technology on a large scale in Germany in the 2030s”.

Amprion and TenneT have submitted investment applications for their respective PtG pilot plants hybridge and ELEMENT ONE (picture: Open Grid Europe GmbH)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Visit hybridge website, in German (html)
> Visit ELEMENT ONE website, in German (html)

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Royal interest in the Wind Power Hub

07.03.2019

TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), had the honour of hosting high-ranking visitors. During the German-Dutch trade delegation meeting on 6 March 2019 in the German North Sea port of Bremerhaven, Manon van Beek, CEO of the TSCNET shareholder, presented the vision and current plans for the North Sea Wind Power Hub in attendance of the Dutch King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima.

The North Sea Wind Power Hub concept combines wind energy production, storage, and transmission with a multinational interconnection of North Sea riparian states. In addition to TenneT, the international hub consortium includes the Danish TSO Energinet, another TSCNET shareholder, the port of Rotterdam and the Dutch natural gas company Gasunie. Hence, power-to-gas technologies are also involved in the hub concept. A transnational transmission grid, controlled through a distribution hub in the North Sea and enabling the feed-in and distribution of vast quantities of offshore wind energy, would strengthen the whole European energy market and increase the security of supply across the continent.

The Dutch royal couple took great interest in the virtual and interactive model of the hub concept showcased at the meeting. Manon van Beek was most appreciative of this aristocratic concern: “We are especially pleased and honoured by the interest of the royal couple in the energy hub.” The TenneT CEO considers the Power Hub to be a valuable instrument in achieving the objectives of the Paris Agreement. In this regard, the royal visit was beneficial because the realisation of a low-carbon energy future “requires international cooperation and coordination, political momentum and courage and the support of non-governmental organisations”, van Beek concluded.

TenneT has presented the North Sea Wind Power Hub in the presence of the Dutch royal couple (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> Visit North Sea Wind Power Hub website (html)

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TenneT and Gasunie present “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”

15.02.2019

Electricity grids in Europe are increasingly confronted with the fluctuating feed-in of renewable energies. Consequently, they need more flexibility, which can be provided by the comprehensive coupling of sectors such as energy, transport, industry and heat. Many European transmission system operators (TSOs) have identified the integration of electricity and gas transmission infrastructures as a promising approach to fulfilling the requirements of the coming sustainable energy system. Electricity and gases must complement each other, since interlinking both grid types creates new storage possibilities and also provides additional transport options for renewables. Both factors will help to keep energy supplies reliable and affordable also in the low carbon energy future.

TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German TSO for electricity, and Gasunie, the Dutch TSO for gas, each operate grids in the Netherlands as well as in Germany. Last year they entered into a sector coupling partnership with plans for the Power-to-Gas (PtG) pilot plant “ELEMENT ONE”. Now the TSOs have presented their joint “Infrastructure Outlook 2050”. It clearly illustrates that the existing electricity and gas infrastructures in the Netherlands and Germany continue to play a decisive role in coping with the increase in renewable energies and achieving the Paris climate targets. The main conclusion of the joint TSO study is that electricity and gas networks must be more closely interconnected by 2050 in order to meet the objectives. The Outlook is also the first document of its kind to consider various scenarios for the future development of energy supply.

The importance of hydrogen from PtG technologies for energy storage and transport is also highlighted. But even despite the potential of sector integration, further expansion of the electricity grid remains essential, as all scenarios envisage a significant increase in the necessity of electricity transport. In addition, however, there must also be backing from political decision-makers and the creation of a clear, supportive regulatory framework. Manon van Beek, CEO at TenneT, argues that “energy systems are not converted overnight but require sustained, joint efforts”. She therefore sees the need for close cooperation between all those involved in the energy market. In this respect, the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” represents a “solid, joint start with fresh insights”.

TenneT and Gasunie present the “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” on developing and coupling of transmission infrastructures (picture: Gasunie)

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> See TenneT press release (html)
> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Open “Infrastructure Outlook 2050” (pdf, 45.28Mb)

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Hybridge to couple energy sectors

11.02.2019

Last summer, TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity, and Open Grid Europe (OGE), German TSO for natural gas, announced a collaboration in the field of sector coupling by means of power to gas (PtG) facilities. PtG technologies offer promising perspectives for a low-carbon energy future. Now the two partners are ready to launch the sector coupling at system level in Germany with the project “hybridge” comprising an electrolyser in the 100MW class and a hydrogen infrastructure.

At a joint press conference on 11 February in the German capital of Berlin, the current status of hybridge and further steps were presented. Since the partners, who estimate the costs for the entire project at €150m, are ready to enter the approval phase, Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion, explained that the regulatory framework must now be set up quickly. The more so, as it is crucial for the German climate targets that PtG is available in the GW range from 2030. “The ball is in the court of politics. If the course is set now, the plant can already go into operation in 2023,” commented Dr. Kleinekorte.

The ideal location for the first PtG plant in the projected size, in which electricity from renewable energies is converted into green hydrogen and partly further into green methane via an electrolyser, was found at an intersection between the Amprion and OGE grids in the district of Emsland in the northwest of the German federal state of Lower Saxony. The regional natural gas storage facilities, which can be converted to hydrogen in the future, also contribute to optimal conditions for the development of a hydrogen grid to complement the 100MW electrolyser. Amprion and OGE intend to further develop an existing OGE pipeline for the exclusive transport of hydrogen. The concept of Amprion and OGE for sector coupling at system level also includes non-discriminatory third-party access for all market participants to the planned grid coupling infrastructure.

Amprion and the gas-TSO Open Grid Europe are ready to launch their joint sector coupling project “hybridge” (picture: Amprion; from left to right: Dr. Thomas Hüwener, Member of the OGE Management Board, and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, CTO at Amprion)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)

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Coupling of renewables and PtG for climate targets

11.12.2018

In order to achieve ambitious climate targets, a rapid expansion of renewable energy generation is essential. The German market still has great offshore potential in this respect. However, regenerative expansion makes no sense if the corresponding transport or storage capacities are lacking. TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO), is already known for its sustained efforts to significantly expand the transmission infrastructure in its control area as environmentally friendly as possible. But the TSO is also very active in the development of storage concepts, just consider, for example, the storage potential of the North Sea Wind Power Hub project or the “ELEMENT ONE” power-to-gas (PtG) pilot plant.

Together with Siemens and Shell, both global players in their respective fields, Tennet is now making additional efforts to promote the renewables as well as PtG. The three companies are convinced that green hydrogen will play a decisive role in the future energy mix as the basis for many power-to-X applications, which are technologies for storage and other uses of surplus electricity. TenneT, Siemens and Shell have thus commissioned a study on a new type of tender model for offshore wind capacity. This model intends to link the awarding of contracts for the operation of offshore plants to the production of hydrogen: The additional wind power from such facilities should not put too much strain on the onshore grid, but rather be used to generate hydrogen and even stablise the electricity grid. The green hydrogen can be transported via the gas grid and then be used in other sectors, such as industry or mobility.

Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, is determined to not squander any potential for renewable energies and convinced that PtG technologies provide flexibility, reduce the strain on the grid and make power supply more secure. “In the long term,” Mr Hartman continues, “the combination with hydrogen production can also be applied throughout Germany to other renewable energies. This advances the energy transition and helps to achieve our climate targets.”

TenneT, in cooperation with Siemens and Shell, proposes to couple offshore wind capacity tenders with PtG storage technologies (copyright photo composition by Stadtwerke Mainz)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)

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First TenneT Offshore Conference

07.11.2018

The EUREF Campus is the sustainability city quarter of the German capital Berlin with a climate-neutral energy supply and hence the ideal location for the first Offshore Conference of TSCNET shareholder TenneT, which took place on 6 November 2018. Headlined “Land in Sight – The Future of Offshore”, 170 decision-makers from politics, business and the media accepted the invitation of the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) and took part in information panels, lectures and panel discussions. TenneT experts provided far-reaching insights into current pilot projects, information on ongoing studies, cooperations and concepts for future digital smart grid management.

“Offshore is a success story,” was how TenneT CEO Manon van Beek summed up the development to date. “Our conviction is that the second, decisive phase of the energy transition – the integration of 60, 70, 80% renewables and more – will only be successful if we address the issues in a bundled way.” This requires next to infrastructural improvements technical innovations, digitalisation, flexibility and the coupling of sectors.” Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, described the range of the TSO’s future-oriented approach: “From electric vehicles, blockchain storage and power-to-gas projects to the introduction of acceptability increasing underground cable technologies.” Wilfried Breuer, Managing Director TenneT Offshore, highlighted the company’s success in offshore development: “In the German North Sea, TenneT currently operates eleven offshore grid connection systems with a total capacity of 6,232MW to transmit wind energy from sea to land. This means that already now TenneT is almost completely meeting the German Federal Government’s expansion target of 6,500MW of offshore wind capacity by 2020.”

A key element of the conference was the North Sea Wind Power Hub, a visionary interconnection system that combines the generation, storage and transmission of wind energy with a multinational connection of the transmission systems of the North Sea riparian states. Also on display was an electric car already equipped with bidirectionally functioning batteries. As part of a pilot project, these batteries, which can both store electricity and feed it back into the grid, are used for redispatch. But what turned out to be the somehow “secret star” of the event was “ANYmal”, a special robot that – due to its highly developed motion characteristics – in test runs is already independently performing maintenance and repair work in TenneT’s onshore and offshore facilities.

TenneT held its first Offshore Conference in Berlin, Germany, which was attended by a prominent audience (picture: TenneT)

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> See TenneT press release, in German (html)
> Watch “ANYmal” demonstration videos on Twitter (html)

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“ELEMENT ONE” couples green energy sectors

17.10.2018

Power-to-gas (PtG) technologies can make a significant contribution to solving the problem of the weather-dependent and thus volatile availability of renewable energies. The PtG offer for a low carbon energy future is to convert sustainable electricity into gas (green hydrogen or methane), so that the gas infrastructure can be used additionally for the transport and storage of renewable energies. A future milestone in the PtG area is now emerging, as TSCNET shareholder TenneT, the Dutch-German transmission system operator (TSO) for electricity, and the two TSOs for gas, Gasunie and Thyssengas, have embarked on concrete planning for green sector coupling using PtG technologies.

Without ambitious and courageous lighthouse projects, the energy transition cannot be successfully promoted, and the three TSOs have just presented precisely this kind of project with “ELEMENT ONE”. In the German federal state of Lower Saxony, the three operators are planning to build a PtG pilot plant, which will be the largest of its kind in Germany with a capacity of 100MW. From 2022, the plant will gradually be connected to the grid and offer new storage capacities for renewable energies. The ultimate long-term goal to be achieved by the partners is a comprehensive coupling of the energy, transport and industry sectors.

TenneT sees great potential in PtG technologies because they can provide the power grid with a much needed degree of flexibility. And this creates many advantages for grid operation as Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, emphasises: “The ability to store large volumes of renewable electricity will reduce the load on the power grid. That, in turn, helps us limit the expensive curtailment of wind turbines and make the power supply more reliable.” And what may be perhaps the most significant aspect for the public ‒ considering the ongoing discussions about grid extension in Germany ‒ is the prediction that “storing more green energy also entails a reduced need for further grid expansion after 2030”.

In cooperation with Gasunie and Thyssengas, TenneT presents the ELEMENT ONE project for green sector coupling using PtG technology

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Coupling of electricity and gas infrastructures

20.06.2018

To achieve climate targets, the German government has introduced a quota for the share of renewable energies in total electricity generation of 65% by 2030. Without cross-sectoral innovation and cooperation, this will be extremely difficult to achieve. Power to gas (PtG) technologies offer new opportunities to realise a low-carbon energy future and meet legal requirements. That is why TSCNET shareholder Amprion, one the four German transmission system operators (TSOs) for electricity, and Open Grid Europe (OGE), a German TSO for natural gas with a large gas transmission system, have decided to jointly propel smart sector coupling involving PtG facilities.

On 20 June, the two TSOs presented their cooperation on a joint press conference in the German capital of Berlin. Both companies believe that seasonal energy storage concepts are a vital response to the volatility of the renewables. The most economically efficient solution for this is PtG when utilising the existing gas infrastructure. Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte, Chief Technical Officer at Amprion, comments on the PtG initiative: “The use of this technique on an industrial scale has not yet been proven in practice. However, this will be all the more necessary in the years to come.”

PtG technology is capable of converting renewable electricity into hydrogen or synthetic methane, so that the current gas infrastructure can be used additionally for the transport and storage of renewable energies. As TSOs, Amprion and OGE are ready to test PtG on an industrial scale and thereby make a significant contribution to a successful energy transition. “Our common goal is to beneficially couple our respective infrastructures,” explains Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick, Amprion’s Chief Commercial and Financial Officer. The ambitious vision is “to have the option of large-scale storage systems from 2030 onwards”.

From left to right: Stephan Kamphues, Dr. Hans-Jürgen Brick and Dr. Klaus Kleinekorte (Picture: Open Grid Europe GmbH)

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> See Amprion press release, in German (html)
> See OGE press release (html)

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