Renewable electricity can be transformed into a substitute for natural gas. Until now, electricity was generated from gas
Now, a German-Austrian cooperation wants to go in the opposite direction. In the future, these researchers and entrepreneurs would like to store surplus electricity - such as from wind power or solar energy - as climate-neutral methane, and store it in existing gas storage facilities and the natural gas network.
Throughout the world, electricity generation is based more and more on wind and solar energy. So far, the missing link for integrating renewable energy into the electricity supply is a smart power storage concept. Because when the wind is blowing powerfully, wind turbines generate more electricity than the power grid can absorb.
Now, German researchers have succeeded in storing renewable electricity as natural gas. They convert the electricity into synthetic natural gas with the aid of a new process. The process was developed by the Center for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research Baden-Wurttemberg (ZSW), in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology IWES. Currently, Solar Fuel Technology, the Austria-based partner company, is setting up the industrial implementation of the process.
One advantage of the technology:it can use the existing natural gas infrastructure. A demonstrationsystem built on behalf of Solar Fuel in Stuttgart is already operating successfully. By 2012, a substantially larger system - in the double-digit megawatt range - is planned to be launched.
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