German Hybrid-Wind Power Plant Does it All

Germany has recently become a testing ground for innovative wind energy storage projects. Pilot projects in Herten and Falkenhagen are integrating wind power with hydrogen fuel cells to store excess power for later use. In the case of the Falkenhagen project, the hydrogen gas will also be fed directly into a gas pipeline system, to be used like natural gas.

Now, European power company Vattenfall has announced that a new hybrid power plant in Prenzlau, 75 miles north of Berlin, is adding a few more energy technologies to the mix. The power plant uses wind power to produce hydrogen gas, and then co-fires the hydrogen with biogas in on-site combined heat and power (CHP) units. The plant generates electricity and heat, as well as fuel for hydrogen vehicles.

enertrag-hybrid

image via German Institute Taipei

The project consists of one biogas unit, three 2-megawatt wind turbines, two CHP plants and an electrolysis unit. The project partners include German energy company Enertrag, French oil and gas company Total, Swedish power company Vattenfall and Siemens. The initiative is also supported by several German states and the German Ministry of Transport. The energy storage technology being tested in Prenzlau could allow for more efficient use of wind power, and pave the way for its integration into the transportation sector.

“There is currently no system designed to compensate for the differences between supply and demand within the sector of renewable energy,” Oliver Weinmann, head of Vattenfall Innovation in Germany, said in a statement. “But this project allows us to find a balance in the system and it’s also good business.”

In the renewable energy realm, Vattenfall is more commonly known for its offshore wind projects, including the massive Thanet wind farm in U.K. waters. The company currently has two large wind farms slated for development off the German coast, which will provide power for up to 800,000 German residents.

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).