Large hydrogen project with thousands of solar panels

12 Apr 2017

  • Gasunie subsidiaries EnergyStock and New Energy aim to convert sustainable  electricity into green hydrogen for mobility and industry;
  • First power-to-gas installation of at least 1 MW in the Netherlands;
  • Underground gas storage Zuidwending ideal location thanks to buffer capacity and connection with main infrastructure;
  • Pilot project HyStock important step in scaling up power-to-gas technology.

Gasunie subsidiaries EnergyStock and New Energy aim to convert sustainable electricity into hydrogen at its Underground Gas Storage Zuidwending using approximately 5,000 solar panels. To this end, they are starting a pilot project (HyStock) with the aim of building a power-to-gas installation – the first such installation in the Netherlands with a capacity of 1 megawatt or more. The location is ideal because it offers the opportunity of future large-scale storage of hydrogen in salt caverns made especially for gas storage. Through this project, the Gasunie subsidiaries aim to further develop the market for green hydrogen. The definitive decision on the power-to-gas installation will be made this summer.

Hydrogen as energy carrier

EnergyStock and Gasunie New Energy are envisioning that the Underground Gas Storage at Zuidwending (in the province of Groningen) will be able to play an important role in ensuring a sustainable energy supply. “Storing sustainable electricity in large quantities is difficult,” says Henk Abbing, Managing Director of EnergyStock. “An affordable battery that would be capable of doing this reliably on a large scale has yet to be invented. Hydrogen could offer a solution here, as sustainable energy in the form of hydrogen can be stored. Together with oxygen, hydrogen is the main component in water. You can separate these two components quite easily using sustainable power.” Gasunie New Energy see the conversion of power-to-gas as a promising technology in which gas infrastructure can play a connecting role. In the future, green hydrogen will be an important clean fuel in a sustainable energy supply. Hydrogen can be used for mobility and transport for instance, as well as for industrial applications and electricity supply. With the HyStock pilot, EnergyStock and Gasunie New Energy aim to contribute to the further development of the market for green hydrogen.

From energy management to energy transition

As owner of the Underground Gas Storage, EnergyStock is implementing an energy management programme, with the aim of reducing its energy consumption and becoming more sustainable. One of the measures in the programme is to place solar panels on its site. “We then came up with the idea of using a part of the remaining space for a power-to-gas installation,” says Abbing. “In the Netherlands, there are only a few initiatives that focus on converting green power into hydrogen. Our country is lagging behind in this regard compared to, say, Germany, where they are much more advanced in solar and wind power. But in the Netherlands, too, the share of renewable energy is growing. We aim to gain experience in the potential of this technology and figure out the technological challenges and opportunities for scaling it up in the future. The ambition of the North Netherlands region is to become a hydrogen economy. We have wind parks at sea, solar panels on land, and we’ll soon be connected to the supply of sustainable electricity from Scandinavia and Germany. EnergyStock has storage space, we’re connected to the high-voltage electricity grid and the main gas transport grid, we have knowledge about storage, and we wish to take our responsibility seriously in contributing to the energy transition. Together with Gasunie New Energy, we aim to ensure that all valuable sustainable energy can be used and will not be lost.”

Power-to-gas installation

The solar panels will be placed on the earthen embankments around the installation. In addition, the parking areas of the installation will be covered by a solar roof. One megawatt of the power generated will be converted into hydrogen. For this purpose, three containers will be placed within the gates of the installation: one contains the electrolysis unit, the second the necessary electronics, and the third a compressor that fills the storage cylinders with hydrogen. The storage cylinders are mobile and can be transported to end-users (mobility and industry). The definitive decision on the power-to-gas installation will be made this summer.

For more information, you can find an infographic here or visit www.agbzw.nl/waterstofproject (only available in Dutch).