Today, Germany’s Minister of Economics and Technology, Sigmar Gabriel, together with representatives of power utility Stadtwerke Mainz, Siemens, The Linde Group and RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, gave the starting signal for the construction of the Energiepark Mainz.

From 2015 the energy storage project, which is receiving financial support from the ministry, could make an important contribution to the success of the energy turnaround in Germany, said Mr. Gabriel during the foundation stone ceremony in the state capital of Rhineland-Palatinate.

Starting next year, the jointly developed pilot plant will produce major quantities of hydrogen using electricity from renewable sources, mostly from nearby wind power stations. This hydrogen can be stored, loaded into tank trailers or fed directly into the natural gas grid, for use in generating heat or electricity. This makes it possible to store electricity from renewable energy sources. The growing network of hydrogen filling stations for emission-free fuel cell-powered vehicles can also be supplied from Mainz by tank trailers.

“Innovations and state-of-the-art energy technologies are the keys to the energy supply of the future. Therefore, we must firmly establish and develop energy-related research as a strategic element of our energy policy,” said Mr. Gabriel. “Today, we are firing the starter’s gun for an innovative storage technology that might well become an important building block of the German energy turnaround. More projects like this one are needed to leverage new energy technologies even stronger.”

The project’s aim is to further develop and test innovative technologies for hydrogen electrolysis using renewable energy sources. Already today, wind and solar power stations have to be switched off at times due to insufficient capacity of the energy grid. This will probably happen even more often in the future. At the new energy park, however, this “surplus” sustainable electricity can be stored and used later, according to the actual power demand. This is achieved by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. In this way, renewable energy becomes more flexible and will be available exactly when it’s needed.

Around 17 million euros are being invested to realise the energy park, with support coming from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology as part of its “Energy Storage Funding Initiative”.

“As a leading supplier of hydrogen plants we have since many years been working on the development of this environmentally friendly energy carrier,” said Olaf Reckenhofer, responsible for Linde’s gases business in central Europe. “What makes this energy park so special is that the partners are going to realize a pilot project in an unmatched order of magnitude. It will demonstrate the many advantages of hydrogen to an even broader public.”

Within this project, Linde is responsible for hydrogen purification, compression, storage and filling. The innovative features of Linde’s proprietary ionic compression technology will enable a very energy-efficient compression and a highly flexible plant operation.