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Clean Power Greenpeace Energy Turning Wind Power in to Gas Power

Published on September 26th, 2012 | by Joshua S Hill


Greenpeace Energy Turns Wind Power into Gas Power

September 26th, 2012 by  

What do you do when the grid cannot absorb all the wind power being generated? It might not sound like a likely scenario, but it’s a problem in northern Germany, where Greenpeace Energy has come up with an innovative way to continue using that wind power — turn it into gas power.

Greenpeace Energy Turning Wind Power in to Gas Power

The process is known as “power to gas” and it sees excess electricity used to convert water into hydrogen by means of electrolysis. Greenpeace Energy is currently constructing an electrolyzer facility outside of its Suderburg wind farm in northern Germany where it hopes to start generating hydrogen to be sold to the German gas network.

The natural gas pipelines are already in place, and actually provide more storage capacity than is even necessary at this stage.

Additionally, the gas produced can be used in combined heat and power or as a motor fuel, helping the country to offset its imports of natural gas.

Our hats go off to Greenpeace Energy and Germany in their efforts to continue turning the country’s energy future green.

Source: Renewables International
Image Source: Greenpeace Energy

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About the Author

I'm a Christian, a nerd, a geek, and I believe that we're pretty quickly directing planet-Earth into hell in a handbasket! I also write for Fantasy Book Review (.co.uk), and can be found writing articles for a variety of other sites. Check me out at about.me for more.

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  • JMin2020

    Thanks for the post Joshua. The Germans have no compunctions on doing sensible things with excess renewable energy forms. Consequently they and other European Countries will probably evolve into a hydrogen and electric based transportation system far sooner than the USA will. This country still seems to prefer the steam reformation of natural gas over electrolysis via a renewable energy supplied electrical supply. We may have to suffer the embarrasment due for not being as progressive as we can be as a country.

  • dynamo.joe

    Doesn’t hydrogen embrittlement + entire country’s natural gas distribution network = bad?

    • ThomasGerke

      You are right.
      But natural gas already has a hydrogen component, so introducing a little bit more hydrogen into the grid doesn’t cause problems as long as it stays below a certain percentage.

      Introducing hydrogen is merly the first step, Converting renewable hydrogen into renewable methan is the next.

      • Bob_Wallace

        Any efficiency estimates for going electricity -> hydrogen/methane -> electricity?

        Seems to me that’s a pretty lossy storage solution. Any proven technologies that make it more efficient?

        • ThomasGerke

          The electric efficency of such a storage sollution is about 35% (for methan) and about 40% (for hydrogen).

          While this sounds like a bad rate of return, it has to be seen in context.
          This storage sollution is not proposed to be used for hourly/daily load management. It doesn’t rival batteries or pump storage, etc.

          It’s proposed as seasonal / long term storage. Considering that the goal in Germany is not only to green the electricity supply, but to replace all fossil fuels by mid-/ late-century, it sounds like a promising sollution… especially since the natural gas grid has 200 TWh of storage in Germany, today.

          You should also take into account that 35% electric efficency is just half of the picture.

          In the future the residual load (the gap in the supply from variable sources) will most likly be supplied by distributed small & large CHPs. So 35% electric efficency + supplying us with easy to store thermal energy is what this form of chemically stored renewable energy will be used for.

          Our need for electricity represents just about 1/3 of our energy needs. While efficency in building will seriously reduces the need for space heating/cooling and while heat pumps are able to multiply 1 unit of electricity into 3-4 units of heat, we need to be able to cover both energy needs at any given time.

          Efficency is not just a physical unit… cost efficency and industrial viability is also important . Being able to use an existing 200TWh “battery” and being able to install the required conversion technologies (CHPs) already is very efficent for a social economic transition process of this magnitude.

          • Bob_Wallace

            OK, 35% efficiency turns 5 cent wind into 15 cent stored energy. (Rough number time.)

            15 cents might make sense for long term storage/deep backup if you already have the storage in place and the gas turbines ready to use it.

            Has anyone done the math of installing a lot of geothermal heat pump heating/cooling? Seems like Germany is going to be demanding more AC as summer temps rise.

          • ThomasGerke

            The most important part is, it’s 5 cent wind and 15 cent universally useable backup, with all the money staying within the country… potentially even the local community/economy.
            Prices per kWh are a tiny part of the economics.


            The need for energy use for space heating / cooling will be significantly reduced by efficency in buildings. Upgrading homes is totally mainstream today and the common standards people aspire to reduce the energy need by 80-95% compared to buildings of the early 1980s.

            Even with global warming, I don’t think that summer will beat the thermal difference of winter times. A passive house standard home can keep it comfortable warm (21°c) inside when it’s -20°c outside… without a heating system.

          • yazriel

            40% hydrogen storage round cycle efficiency ??
            Isn’t it more like 20%-25% ?

  • anderlan

    Greenpeace has an actual engineering organization?

    • ThomasGerke

      Greenpeace Energy is an energy reseller organized as a cooperative. They provides electricity that meets the high standards of the “Grünstromlabel” (Green Electricity Label) which means that the electricity has to come from new renewable energy (not some old hydro plant somewhere) and that they have to re-invest a certain amount of their income into new projects.

      They have more than 110,000 customers.

    • ha, that’s what hit me. 😀

  • Isn’t this the same process Volkswagen wants to implement?

    • ThomasGerke

      The same technological concept, though VW is going a step further by converting electricity into methan.
      Audi is building the first multi-megawatt power-to-gas plant currently in cooperation with the company “Solar Fuel AG”.

      What is special about what Greenpeace Energy is doing is the fact that they are offering private households to buy so called “Windgas” over the grid (to use it for heating, cooking,…).
      With buying their gas from Greenpeace Energy, people actually help to push the technology and investments into this infrastructure.

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