ITM Power’s Power-to-Gas plant, purchased by RWE for use in Germany, has been officially launches in Ibbenbüren, North Rhine Westphalia (NRW).

The state-of-the-art plant is part of a new system that, for the first time ever, links together the supply of local electricity, natural gas and district heating.

The opening today comes after integration of the electrolyser, implementation of the heat recovery system and many weeks of testing. A significant result is that RWE has measured an overall energy efficiency of 86%.

“This ultra-modern power-to-gas plant is further evidence of the fact that NRW is the number one energy region in Germany. 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”, said NRW Minister of Economics, Garrelt Duin.

Dr. Joachim Schneider, CTO of RWE Deutschland, added, “In order to be able to pick up excess electricity from renewable sources onto our grid, we need alternatives to conventional grid expansion methods. This was the driving force behind our decision to embrace this new technology.”

“The hydrogen that is created by electrolysis can be stored and later used to generate power. The benefit of this form of electricity storage is the enormous infrastructure already offered by the natural gas network – which has huge storage capacity and a high-performing network. But that is not all – with a utilisation rate of 86 percent, this power-to-gas plant here in Ibbenbüren is the most efficient of its kind in Germany.”

A central element of the power-to-gas plant is an electrolyser the size of a shipping container, which was built by the UK firm, ITM Power. The electrolyser converts into hydrogen any power from renewable sources such as solar panels or wind turbines that is not immediately required. It is then injected into the natural gas network via a gas pressure regulation station where the waste heat of the electrolyser is also utilised. In times of low renewable power production, the previously stored natural gas can be siphoned off from the storage facility and used in a co-generation plant within the RWE district heating network in Ibbenbüren to generate power. The combined heat and power generation system used there also leads to much better power utilisation thanks to this new system solution.

The power-to-gas plant of RWE in Ibbenbüren has a rated power output of 150KW and creates hydrogen under 14-bar pressure.

Phil Doran, MD, ITM Power, commented, “We are delighted not only to have won the RWE tender, allowing us to deploy our second generation PEM P2G system, complete with heat recovery, but also to have subsequently worked so productively with the RWE and Westnetz teams that has made today possible. We are looking forward to continuing cooperating and learning with RWE and Westnetz as we seek to further develop our German market presence.”