THURSDAY 06 MAY, 2010 |
New Process Turns Wind And Solar Power Into Gas
The argument in regard to solar and wind power not being suitable for baseload
electricity supply purposes is steadily weakening. Molten
are now in use; gravel
are in development and various other technologies have been
proposed alongside more traditional ones such as solar
in conjunction with hydro-storage.
While natural gas is often converted into
electricity, process developed by the Center for Solar Energy and
Hydrogen Research Baden-Württemberg (ZSW) and in cooperation with the
Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy and Energy System Technology means
renewable electricity can now be transformed into a substitute for natural gas -
another source of power for electricity generation.
According to Dr. Michael Specht of ZSW, "Our demonstration system in
Stuttgart separates water from surplus renewable energy using electrolysis. The
result is hydrogen and oxygen. A chemical reaction of hydrogen with carbon
dioxide generates methane - and that is nothing other than natural gas, produced
During times of high wind speeds, wind
can generate more power than can be utilised. This new technology
could soon keep green electricity in stock as
natural gas or renewable methane. The climate-neutral methane could be stored in
existing gas storage facilities and the natural gas network, for use during unfavourable
conditions - such as night time or calm weather.
The storage reservoir of the natural gas network extending through Germany comes
to more than 200 terawatt hours; enough to satisfy consumption for several
A demonstration system 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.
While the efficiency of converting power to gas comes to around 60 percent, Dr.
Specht points out it is better than a total loss in scenarios where wind power
has to be curtailed.
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