The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Germany Invests in Hydrogen Technology for Renewable Storage, Vehicles

The tanks look like they could hold propane, gasoline or any other form of conventional energy.

But the storage tanks in Prenzlau, some 70 miles north of Berlin, hold energy produced from wind. A hybrid power plant sponsored by four large companies is being tested there to see if the plant’s wind-hydrogen-biogas technology will work.

The system takes wind energy and turns it into hydrogen, which allows it to be stored. First electricity is produced in three wind turbines, which is then used to produce C02-free hydrogen. This so-called “green” hydrogen can be stored and mixed with biogas in a combined heat and power plant, to be used as needed in times of higher demand. 

The resulting fuel can then be used for electricity or to power cars. 

The technology is designed to solve a key problem in the renewables sector — how to store the energy that’s produced during a windy day for use when it’s dark and still.

The Prenzlau project can produce 120 cubic meters of hydrogen per hour. That can allow a hydrogen-powered car to travel 1,200 kilometers (745 miles). 

Enertrag, a wind energy company with its base near Prenzlau, is leading the project. The company has 440 wind installations that produce 1.5 billion kWh annually — enough to support the yearly energy needs of 1.5 million people.

The other firms are TOTAL, the French oil giant, that has been testing and operating hydrogen fuel stations for automobiles for some 10 years in Germany. It is set to open another hydrogen fuel station at the new Berlin Airport when it opens this June.

Vattenfall AB, the Swedish-based energy conglomerate, and DB Energie GmbH, a subsidiary of the Deutsche Bahn AG, Germany’s federal railway, are also involved. The Prenzlau project’s construction started in 2009 and the plant went online last October. Some 21 million Euros ($35.7 million) were invested. 

An additional alliance comprising of 14 participants from industry, science, academic and research and development areas was announced last December. Known as Performing Energy – Alliance for Wind Hydrogen, its goal is to support hydrogen energy efforts.

Vattenfall, a member of the Alliance that is financially supporting the Prenzlau project, is interested seeing just how far hydrogen technology can go, said its renewable energy spokesperson Lutz Wiese.

He said using hydrogen for electricity might not be so interesting in a large country like the United States, but it could work in Germany. He noted that a maximum volume of 5 percent hydrogen can be used in the energy network, but said it’s still a good use for the fuel. 

Another interesting area is hydrogen power for cars, where technology has improved to allow for 400 km (248 miles) of travel on one tank, compared to roughly 150 km (93 miles) for an electric battery-powered car, Weise said. Vattenfall realizes that hydrogen and battery technologies are competing, but noted that German car maker Mercedes Benz AG is investing heavily in the hydrogen car.

“We’ll just have to see how it develops further,” he said, noting that being able to drive more than twice as much on one fill up is an attractive feature for potential buyers. 

Not everyone is convinced. The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Heidelberg said in a report that hydrogen fuel cell systems are costly, with units ranging from 2500 to 5000 Euros  ($4,250 to $ 8,500) per kW and a lifespan of 10 years, compared to 40 years for other large-scale storage technologies, which cost way less.

The IFEU does not believe that hydrogen will “become an important storage medium in the short or medium term.” Renewable energy’s share of the energy mix needs to be larger. If predictions hold out, hydrogen fuel may become an important element after 2030, it said.

“Hydrogen storage should not be given preference over battery systems. However, it should not be excluded either.”

RELATED ARTICLES

Rooftop Solar Panels

Hypocrisy? While Buffett Champions Renewables, His Company Fights Rooftop Solar

Mark Chediak, Noah Buhayar and Margaret Newkirk, Bloomberg Warren Buffett highlights how his Berkshire Hathaway Inc. utilities make massive investments in renewable energy. Meanwhile, in Nevada, the company is fighting a plan that would encourage more residents to use green power.
Renewable Energy Finance

Clean Energy ETFs Are on a Tear

Eric Balchunas, Bloomberg Green investing used to be synonymous with losing money. But while the S&P 500 Index is up 2 percent this year, and the MSCI All-Country World Index is up 5 percent, clean energy ETFs have double-digit re...

Wheels, Towers and Trees: Unconventional Renewable Energy Technologies in the Pipeline

Andrew Williams, International Correspondent A number of companies around the world are developing novel technologies in an effort to grab a slice of the global renewable energy market.  Although many of these technologies are simple incremental improvements to e...
UK Parliament Clean Energy Leaders

UK Government Names Clean Energy Cabinet Members

David Appleyard, Contributing Editor With the UK general election now over and a majority Conservative Party government in place, the re-elected Prime Minister David Cameron has now named key members of the government charged with steering the UK’s clean energ...
I'm a journalist with more than 20 years experience in both radio and print. I was based in Oregon for many years but have been working out of Berlin, Germany since the summer of 2011. I write for REW and also for PV Magazine, the English version ...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

03/01/2015
Volume 18, Issue 3
file

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

Doing Business in Brazil – in partnership with GWEC, the Global Win...

Brazil is one of the most promising markets for wind energy.  Ranke...

Energy Storage USA 2015

Energy Storage USA is the leading conference in the United States focuse...

Wind Power Central America

Wind power projects are expected to reach 46GW of total installed capaci...

COMPANY BLOGS

Harnessing the #ElonEffect: Deconstructing the PR Success of Tesla’...

As most of the world has heard by now, Tesla and its co-founder, Elon Mu...

SunEdison Expands Residential Market Offerings with New PPA, Sales ...

SunEdison has largely focussed on the commercial and utility-scale solar...

Deadline for Inclusion in Solar Power World's Top Solar Contractors...

UPDATE: The official deadline for the Solar Power World T...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS