Hydrogen storage to reinforce sustainability of renewable energy

Published May 26, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Myrna M. Velasco

MUNICH, Germany – With the “green-leaning” transformative phase happening in the energy sector globally, hydrogen storage is being dangled as the “next major innovation” that can further advance the sustainability of renewable energy (RE) deployments.

For countries wanting to increase RE installations to keep pace with the world’s climate agenda or to comply with policies such as the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) due for implementation next year in the Philippines, industrial giant Siemens AG is advancing “green hydrogen” storage to sort out the intermittency dilemmas of RE technologies, primarily wind and solar.

Siemens and other European firm-partners Verbund and Voestalpine have successfully deployed their pilot “green hydrogen storage” in Linz, Austria and have brought this facility to commercial fruition spring this year.

The next step for the industrial giant will be to scale it for the RE storage – primarily for wind energy in Germany; before dangling it for massive installations as complement to RE solutions for the world.

Through the use of proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer or what is referred to as “water electrolysis technology”, renewable energy sources can be turned into hydrogen and they can be re-used as electricity as needed in an electricity system.

Green hydrogen storage technology is seen ideal to marry with power markets intending mammoth RE deployments and also to reinforce reliability in power grids. For the Philippines, in particular, it has cast long-term RE investments to be underpinned by the government-enforced RPS or the mandate for distribution utilities (DUs) to secure prescribed percentage of their power supply from RE sources.

The need for energy storage as a coupling to the on-and-off generation of RE sources on a massive scale has been under experiment for several years, but the “cost piece of the puzzle” or the commerciality aspect and the completeness of solution of proposed technologies have yet to concretize their way into markets.

Philippine companies like First Gen Corporation, Aboitiz Power and AC Energy Inc. are all studying the prospects of battery storage as a technology coupling to intermittent renewables like wind and solar. And similar to all other players globally, they are also monitoring anticipated exponential decline in the cost of energy storage – looking at cost competitiveness trajectory in the next five years.

As noted by Wolfgang Hesoun, chairman of the managing board of Siemens AG Osterreich, the company “has developed what currently is the world’s largest PEM electrolyzer module”, whicb could then able to produce 1,200 meters of ‘green hydrogen’ an hour.

The German firm has projected that “the global demand for hydrogen will increase ten-fold by year 2050 – or seen reaching 6 .0trillion cubic meters by that time. Several hydrogen “green storage” demonstration projects are now underway in Europe and the United States; and the technology is also seen coming its way next into Asian energy markets.

“This technology supports our customers as they drive transformation with the energy sector and enhance climate protection,” Siemens Chief Technology Officer Roland Busch said.

Siemens further noted that “green hydrogen is the perfect example of the sector coupling which is urgently required for decarbonizing power generation – and similarly applicable to industries and the transport sector.