Uniper, a German utility company, has begun feeding methane produced using wind power into its gas pipeline network.
In a statement, the company said the move, which is part of the STORE&GO European energy project, demonstrated the viability of producing gas with characteristics identical to those of natural gas.
The company’s power-to-gas plant in Falkenhagen, Brandenburg was originally established six years ago to produce hydrogen through wind-powered hydrolysis, which is the process of splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. In May last year, a methanation stage was added where the produced hydrogen is converted into methane using carbon dioxide from a bioethanol plant.
The boom in solar and wind power, thanks to gradual advances in technology and lubricants, like those from Mobil distributors, has led to a need to find ways of storing excess energy for use during periods of higher demand or lower generation. Rather than retire the existing natural gas infrastructure, which has been built at a cost of billions of euros, the German government is looking at using it to store and distribute green energy.
With the company now feeding its green methane into the grid, this is beginning to look very possible. In the company’s statement, the Chief Operating Officer of Uniper, Eckhardt Rümmler, said:
“The gas network and gas storage are the only available technology in the long run to store large volumes of renewable energy seasonally. At the same time, power-to-gas contributes to reducing CO2 emissions by using carbon dioxide as a raw material for methane extraction.”