Described as “a world premiere”, the Prime Minister of the State of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzeck, put into operation a hydrogen-hybrid power station in Prenzlau located north of Berlin (Germany) at the end of October.
Enertrag AG, Total Deutschland GmbH, Vattenfall and Deutsche Bahn have all been involved in this ground-breaking project, which aims to demonstrate the feasibility of a safe and sustainable supply and storage of energy by using a mix of purely renewable energy sources in practical testing. This technology is also important for the energy sector, because it enables the storage of wind energy and the smooth feed-in of power from wind farms into the grid.
As shown in the diagram, the hydrogen-hybrid power station unites for the first time wind, hydrogen and biogas to one compound. The electricity generated by three wind turbines is proportionately used to manufacture carbon dioxide-free hydrogen. This green hydrogen is stored and used to produce electricity and heat by means of a combined hydrogen-biogas power plant at times of high demand and simultaneously low supply of wind energy. Moreover, this hydrogen is also used in the pumps at Total hydrogen filling stations in Berlin and Hamburg. In this way, green hydrogen from the district where the plant is located guarantees carbon dioxide-free mobility in Berlin.
The total sum of investments for this hybrid power station adds up to €21 million. This pioneering project is being sponsored by the State of Brandenburg and the Federal Ministry of Transport.
At the event held to celebrate the official opening, Prime Minister Matthias Platzeck said: “The hydrogen-hybrid power station is providing a real boost! This project is an innovative, practicable and efficient contribution to be more climate-friendly. This plant, unique in the world, makes it possible to transform the fluctuating wind energy into a reliable factor that can then be deployed in the long-term as a predictable source of energy for electricity, heat and mobility. We are assisting a quantum leap in modern storage technology today."
Werner Diwald, executive board member of Enertrag also sayd: “The goal of providing sufficient energy to cover all our electricity, heating and mobility needs solely from renewable sources is a central facet of the energy revolution and of a sustainable, economically viable and secure energy supply. The storage of renewable energy will play a significant role here. Hydrogen is unanimously considered to represent the primary medium for this job, as it is easily able to transport and store energy in large quantities at the required speed. For this reason, ENERTRAG has chosen to focus on hydrogen and, together with industrial partners, is developing solutions that will enable the supply of energy generated using domestic resources in Germany in accordance with society’s political goals.”
Insurance not a problem
This week, insurance broker, Ecuritas, announced it was not fazed by the cutting-edge nature of hydrogen-hybrid technology and was providing insurance for the Prenzlau facility. The insurance cover was provided by Ecuritas Insurance Broker GmbH, which specialises in comprehensive risk assessment of projects in the area of clean technology.
The foundation stone for the first-ever hydrogen-hybrid power plant was laid by the German Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in April 2009. A second hydrogen filling station will be opened in 2012 at the new Berlin Brandenburg International airport.