ITM Power hasannounced that following the sale of a 360kW Power-to-Gas energy storage plant, announced on 13 March 2013, the Thüga Group has now started construction of its Power-to-Gas pilot plant in Frankfurt.

The Thüga Group starts construction of its power-to-gas pilot plant in Frankfurt: Over the course of a three-year operation 13 Thüga partners will test power-to-gas storage technology using the gas distribution network. In addition to testing the technical feasibility, the companies are calling for framework conditions that will enable reliable and economical operation of this technology.

The groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Thüga Group power-to-gas pilot plant took place in Frankfurt am Main. “I am delighted that this innovative facility will be built in the state of Hesse. It will be an important contribution in the area of research and development of storage technologies,” emphasised the Environment Minister for Hesse, Lucia Puttrich.

By the end of 2013 the plant should be converting electricity into hydrogen for the first time and feeding into the local gas distribution network. Between then and 2016, the companies will gain experience in how the plant works under practical conditions.

“I am delighted that four companies from Rhineland-Palatinate are involved in the testing of this technology. And that our state will benefit from the results gained here,” said Uwe Hüser, State Secretary for Rhineland-Palatinate at the Ministry for the Economy, Climate Protection, Energy and Regional Planning.

Dr. Petra Roth, Deputy Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Thüga Holding GmbH & Co. KGaA and former Lord Mayor of Frankfurt, praised the joint action, “In this project 13 municipal companies are combining their expertise and capital. It’s clever, sustainable and responsible. When local authorities and municipal utilities join together to tackle challenges, they can be resolved more efficiently.”

The project partners include badenova AG & Co. KG, Erdgas Mittelsachsen GmbH, Energieversorgung Mittelrhein GmbH, erdgas schwaben gmbh, ESWE Versorgungs AG, Gasversorgung Westerwald GmbH, Mainova Aktiengesellschaft, Stadtwerke Ansbach GmbH, Stadtwerke Bad Hersfeld GmbH, Thüga Energienetze GmbH, WEMAG AG, e-rp GmbH as well as Thüga Aktiengesellschaft as project coordinator. The operational phase will be supervised by scientific project partners and by the Hesse Ministry for Environment, Energy, Agriculture and Consumer Protection.

The core of the plant is the electrolyser which is more environmentally friendly and more flexible to load.

The plant is being built on the Mainova Aktiengesellschaft site in Schielestrasse in Frankfurt am Main. “Frankfurt was chosen because the infrastructure to connect an electrolysis plant was already available,” says Michael Riechel, member of the Thüga Aktiengesellschaft Management Board. In addition, the minimum gas sales in the region necessary for operation are guaranteed even in the summer months when consumption is low.

At the core of the plant is a proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser produced by ITM Power. The project partners have opted for this facility because, in comparison with alkaline electrolysers, the operating medium is water rather than a potassium hydroxide solution and is therefore more environmentally friendly. Furthermore, the system reacts more quickly to changes in the electrical load on the grid thanks to the PEM electrolyser. A further advantage is the compact design, as a higher output can be achieved in the same unit area. The plant will produce around 60 cubic metres of hydrogen per hour and so feed 3000 cubic metres of natural gas enriched with hydrogen into the grid per hour. An expansion of the pilot plant is planned from 2016 and the hydrogen will then be converted to methane and fed into the gas distribution network.

Commenting on the announcement, ITM Power GmbH Managing Director, Phil Doran, said, “We are delighted that Thüga Group has started construction of what will be a vital reference site for all our partners as well as for national and regional government in Germany and ITM Power. From the end of this year, when it is up and running, this plant will become the focal point of our sales and marketing in the Power-to-Gas sector in Europe.”