At the heart of the STORE&GO project were the three demonstration facilities. The first facility that was commissioned was the facility at Falkenhagen, Germany, where, in May 2018, an existing hydrogen production facility was extended with a methanation unit with a production capacity of 580 kilowatts of SNG. The methanation unit used the isothermic catalytic honeycomb technology and from January 2019 the produced SNG was injected into the natural gas transportation grid.
Following are the operation data of the Falkenhagen plant during the course of its runtime in the project.
|Operating hours||1186 h|
|SNG-Output||about 192.000 kWh|
The plant reached an overall PtG efficiency of 53 % based on the measurement results. The methanation unit reached an overall methanation efficiency of 85 % (including heat usage and electricity demand). The relatively low overall PtG efficiency arised from the poor efficiency of the existing alkaline electrolyser (AEL). Due to this fact, the biggest optimization potential in Falkenhagen is to use a state-of-the-art (SoA) electrolyser (optimized PtG efficiency of 69 %). The core technology in Falkenhagen (methanation unit) was capable of producing high quality SNG (volumetric methane content > 99 vol.-%) for a wide variation of the load (40 – 100 %). Also during load changes, the SNG quality always fulfilled the limits for injection of the gas.
After the power-to-gas plant in Falkenhagen, Brandenburg, was expanded by a methanation stage in May 2018, synthetic natural gas - methane - has been fed into the natural gas grid. This allowed the partners of the international research project STORE&GO to demonstrate the technical feasibility of the power-to-gas process through methanation, using electrolysis, for feeding the “green” gas into the natural gas grid. So far, pure hydrogen has been fed into the natural gas grid of the power-to-gas plant in Falkenhagen. Today, the plant produces up to 1,400 cubic meters of synthetic methane (SNG) per day, which corresponds to approximately 14,500 kWh of energy. With this amount of energy, 200 golf class CNG cars could drive about 150 km per day. The methanation is designed for continuous operation and constantly achieves a very high quality of feed. To produce the green methane, the regeneratively produced hydrogen is converted to methane, i.e., synthetic natural gas, with CO2 in a bioethanol plant. The heat generated during the process is also used by the neighboring veneer plant.
As part of the STORE&GO research project the Inauguration event of the methanation plant in Falkenhagen was held on May 9th.
While the current facility feeds pure hydrogen (so-called “WindGas”) directly into the gas grid, the new methanation plant provides for the generation of “green” methane. In this second stage, hydrogen from regenerative energy sources is converted into methane (CH4), i.e. synthetic natural gas, using CO2 from a bio-ethanol plant.
This milestone project was celebrated together with about 150 stakeholders and was opened by a few greeting words from Dr. Ing. Axel Wietfeld (Managing Director of Uniper Energy Storage GmbH). The greeting then disembogued in a series of speeches started by Dr. Ing. Ehler (EPP/CDU, European Parliament member for Brandenburg), Jochen Homann (President of the Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railways), Frank Gröschl (Head of Technology and Innovation Management at the DVGW German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water), Eckhardt Rümmler (Chief Operating Officer of Uniper SE), Helmut Knauthe (Chief Technology Officer of thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG) followed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Kolb (KIT Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) about the necessity of such technology hubs like in Falkenhagen to be able to demonstrate the potential of CO2-neutral gas produced through the power-to-gas technology and therefore the decisive contribution to achieving Europe’s de-carbonization and energy goals.
In summary, the event was a great success and milestone for the STORE&GO project, as well as for the entire gas industry.
On Thursday, July 6, 2017, the Ground-Breaking event in Falkenhagen, Germany took place. The current plant already has the capability to feed small amounts of hydrogen directly into the existing gas grid and will now enter into a new phase with the expansion of a methanation plant.
Falkenhagen in Brandenburg is an ideal location, owing to its high wind generating capacity and the well-developed power and gas infrastructure already in place and with the successful operating phase of the existing demonstration facility, which was launched in August 2013, Uniper has proven that with the aid of power-to-gas technology, surplus wind power can be converted into hydrogen and fed into the regional natural gas network.
The new methanation plant will be built right next to the power-to-gas plant and consists of several components: two different prototype catalytic reactors for methanation are being installed and will be tested during the project. Up to 57 Nm³/h SNG (volumetric flow of synthetic natural gas) will be produced – an output equivalent to approx. 600 kWh per hour. In addition, the heat generated during conversion will be supplied to a nearby veneer plant.
About 50 stakeholders attended this great event, which started with welcoming the attending guests by Dr. Axel Wietfeld (CEO Uniper Energy Storage). Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Kolb (Karlsruher Institute for Technology), Rene Schoof (Project Manager Power-to-Gas, Uniper), Torsten Uhe (District Administrator of the Prignitz district), Dr.-Ing Klaus Freytag (Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy), Dr. Ralph Kleinschmidt (thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG) followed as speakers and praised the importance of the location Falkenhagen for the community and highlighted the importance of the demonstration plant to showcase the potential of power-to-gas. Subsequently, the major representatives gathered to successfully place a time-capsule as the first cornerstone in the ground.
Dr. Ralph Kleinschmidt, Head of Technology & Innovation at thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions AG: "From today's perspective, gas storage systems are the only technology available for storing large amounts of energy from wind power over a period of several months. In the future, we will be able to use industrial emissions or CO₂ from the atmosphere for methane recovery. The power-to-gas facility in Falkenhagen is a crucial step toward an industrial use of this technology."
On Tuesday, the 7th of October, a decisive milestone in the STORE&GO project was achieved. The methanation plant, which was build by thyssenkrupp Industrial Solutions, including the EBI-designed honeycomb reactor have been shipped and set up at the demo site in Falkenhagen, Germany.
After the construction work on site will be finished an opening-event will take place in July 2018, where all stake- and shareholder will be invited to celebrate this decisive milestone and the beginning of the production and test phase of the methanation plant for the next two years.