The first hybrid electricity-fuel-heat power plant with hydrogen storage in the world

An innovative system for generating energy from wind power which converts surplus electricity into hydrogen has been developed at a hybrid power plant in the Uckermark region of eastern Germany, offering a flexible supply of energy with a range of possibilities of use.

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The hybrid power plant combines wind energy with hydrogen in an innovative way.  © ENERTRAG AG The hybrid power plant combines wind energy with hydrogen in an innovative way. © ENERTRAG AG

" The ENERTRAG Hybrid-Power-Plant sets a milestone in systems integration of renewable energy sources. Hydrogen is the best way of integrating renewables into mobility and heating. "

Jörg Müller, CEO

The plant is operated by Brandenburg-based ENERTRAG AG, one of the leading European wind energy suppliers, and designed in partnership with the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus-Senftenberg, the Deutsche Bahn AG, Vattenfall Europe, and Total Germany.

Opened in 2011, the ENERTRAG project combines a wind energy plant, a hydrogen generation facility, and a heat and power plant. The capability for storing unused electricity as hydrogen helps stabilise the power grid, and provides a model for the future take-up of renewable energies.

Electricity, fuel for hydrogen cars, and heating

One of the main advantages of the hybrid power plant is the diversity of ways in which the energy, originally generated through wind farms, can be used or stored. While most of the electricity obtained from wind is normally fed into the power grid, in times of oversupply it is used to generate hydrogen – which, unlike electricity, can be easily stored.

On days of high energy demand, the hydrogen is converted back into electricity in a combined heat and power plant, where it is mixed with biogas to achieve ideal output levels. The waste heat from this process is used as district heating for the nearby town of Prenzlau. Any superfluous hydrogen is turned into fuel for hydrogen cars and brought to petrol stations in Berlin.

A model for the future

The project, which benefited from financial support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), shows how some of the most pressing difficulties that renewable energies face could be overcome. Surplus electricity from wind generators can be stored on-site as hydrogen and used to help balance out fluctuations in the power grid, which are caused by differences in the supply of solar- and wind energy. In this way renewable energy can be 100 % flexible and can be used when and where it is needed.

By strengthening the use of renewable energies, the project is making a valuable contribution to the EU’s aim of raising the share of renewable energies to 20 % by 2020, a target enshrined in the EU’s Europe 2020 strategy.

Total investment and EU funding

Total investment for the project “Production of hydrogen through renewable energies” is EUR 10 948 000 with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), contributing EUR 6 082 000 through the “Brandenburg” Operational Programme, for the 2007-2013 programming period.

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