German utility RWE has commissioned a new power-to-gas plant in the North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) region of Ibbenbüren.


The power-to-gas plant features a proton-exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser that converts electricity from renewable sources into hydrogen.

The hydrogen is converted and stored in a natural gas network, through a gas pressure regulation station.

During peak demand, the co-generation plant within the RWE district heating network in Ibbenbüren will use this stored natural gas to generate power.

RWE Deutschland CEO Dr Arndt Neuhaus said: "Energy storage solutions will become an essential element of our future electricity system, where, according to German Government plans, in 15 years’ time, renewable energy sources will cover 50% of the country’s power needs – or almost double the current rate.

"Our electricity grid will have to perform at an even higher level than before to achieve this.

"Under these changed conditions, the power-to-gas technology will be an exemplary solution, as it makes it possible for us to respond immediately to fluctuating volumes of incoming power."

With a rated power output of 150kW, the new facility produces hydrogen under 14-bar pressure, and has a utilization rate of 86%.

The plant is part of a new system, which integrates the local electricity supply, natural gas and district heating.

NRW Economic Affairs, Energy and Industry Minister Garrelt Duin said: "The option of storing excess eco-power locally and later using it when it is needed is an innovative and technological feat of the highest order.

"This process has potential to play a key role in the transformation of the energy industry."

Several companies across the world have recently come up with ways to generate renewable hydrogen, and take part in such projects.

In March, Toshiba has agreed to join the Levenmouth Community Energy Project in Fife, Scotland, to explore ways to generate hydrogen fuel using solar and wind power.

US-based HyperSolar filed a patent for its technology, ‘method of manufacture of multi-junction artificial photosynthetic cells’, to generate renewable hydrogen from water and sunlight.

Image: RWE and North Rhine-Westphalia officials at the launch of the power-to-gas plant. Photo: courtesy of RWE AG.