German Grid Operators Detail Power-to-Gas Plans

The grid operators TenneT, Gasunie Deutschland and Thyssengas have put forward detailed plans for coupling the electricity and gas grids and advancing Germany’s energy transition.

The three grid operators are planning to build a power-to-gas pilot plant in Lower Saxony. At an output of 100MW, it will be the largest of its kind in Germany.

Potential sites are located in the vicinity of the TenneT substations in Diele and Conneforde, which primarily collect and distribute offshore wind energy from the North Sea.

The “ELEMENT ONE” pilot project will give the companies first experiences with power-to-gas facilities on an industrial scale. Starting in 2022, the pilot plant will be connected to the grid gradually. By converting green energy into gas, it will develop new storage capacities for renewable energies.

The partners ultimately hope to achieve a comprehensive coupling of the energy, transport and industrial sectors. Gas that has been produced from green energy will be transported from the North Sea to the Ruhr region through existing pipelines, but that is not all. It could also be made available to the mobility sector through hydrogen filling stations and to industrial consumers through storage caverns.

Olaf Lies, the Minister of Environmental Affairs and Energy for Lower Saxony, said: “The expansion of offshore and onshore wind energy is advancing. But we cannot think of the energy transition in terms of electricity only. Sector coupling is a crucial aspect of it. We need to implement industrial policies that specify standards for the relevant facilities. That is happening in this case. There is great potential for development, especially when it comes to coupling the electricity and gas grids. The use of green hydrogen for transport, heating and industrial purposes also offers enormous opportunities. We must not be led to focus on electricity only. A wider perspective will enable us to implement a variety of new technologies and have a diverse range of companies working in the field.”

The partnering organisations have already presented the “ELEMENT ONE” project to Thomas Bareiß (MP), the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy. “I am convinced that the use of renewable energy in the form of hydrogen will constitute an important solution to major questions of the energy transition,” Bareiß said.

TenneT believes that there is great potential in power-to-gas technologies, as they can introduce an urgently needed level of flexibility into the power grid.

“We need powerful storage technologies if we want to achieve our ambitious expansion target for renewable energy by 2030. 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. Storing more green energy also entails a reduced need for further grid expansion after 2030,” Lex Hartman, Managing Director of TenneT, said.