When the sun shines intensely, often more electricity is generated than is needed in Germany. The larger power stations will then be taken off the grid. When the weather is good, wind turbines do the same. There is a lack of storage which saves the energy during times when the weather is not cooperating. But there is a lack of batteries and other options.
Ten megawatts to start with
That should change. The Black Pump association, which includes the energy companies Energiequelle in Zossen and Enertrag in Dauerthal, both in Brandenburg, and the University of Rostock, wants a factory in the industrial park Schwarze Pumpe, a district of the Brandenburg city of Spremberg in the Spree – Neisse district on built the border with Saxony, in which electrolysers produce hydrogen with excess power nearby. A total capacity of ten megawatts is planned.
Some of the hydrogen is fed into the natural gas grid so that it can be used, at least mathematically, to heat homes and generate electricity in natural gas plants. Another part is supplied in pressure tanks to neighboring industrial companies and another part is filled into the tanks of electric cars that get their energy from fuel cells at a filling station.
One tenth of the hydrogen produced is potted and converted back into electricity in a one megawatt fuel cell when the grid weakens, ie during so-called dark doldrums. These are what we call times when there is calm and the sun is hiding. Storing excess electricity in the form of hydrogen is likely to be significantly cheaper than lithium-ion and more environmentally friendly than lead-acid batteries.
Big plants with success
If the pilot project, which should begin construction in the second half of 2022 and be completed in 2024, is successful, other systems with 100 to 500 megawatts will follow, whose size could already secure the power supply. They are being built in the current lignite power stations of Jänschwalde, Boxberg and Schwarze Pumpe, among others, to somewhat compensate for the loss of production after the closure.