It was practically impossible to avoid football reference, as around 200 decision-makers and experts, met at the Annual Power to Gas Conference of dena’s Strategy Platform in Berlin on 21st June, in the middle of the group stages of the European Championships, to discuss the prospects of power to gas and linking sectors as part of the energy transition. “The ball is on the penalty mark, but we’re stumbling on the run up,” said Robert Habeck, Schleswig-Holstein’s Energy Transition Minister, summing up the situation following the amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act -Erneuerbare-Energien-Gesetz (EEG).
Schleswig-Holstein proposed freeing up electricity produced by wind and solar power and fed into the grid for use at times of bottlenecks, instead of limiting it. By the time of the conference, this proposal had only been considered in a very much pared-down form in the EEG amendment. Only existing combined heat and power generation plants should be able to use surplus electricity. Other technologies, such as power to gas plants, would have no such chance.
Conference participants agreed that there was a great need for power to gas – all the more considering the ambitious Paris Agreement. Power to gas is seen as a key technology for climate protection. The main challenge currently is not in the cost or the efficiency of the technology, but in establishing a general framework.
Going forward with a long ball
At the end of the conference, dena’s Chief Executive, Andreas Kuhlmann, called for more courage. When the Renewable Energy Sources Act was adopted sixteen years ago, politicians were bold, playing a long ball far forward, even though the outcome were uncertain at that time: “We need more scope for the development of innovative technologies during the energy transition. In order to do so, we need to take more chances and not be afraid of making mistakes. With every law we should ask ourselves whether we’re promoting or preventing innovation.”
It is not only the Renewable Energy Sources Act that creates scope for power to gas and other climate-friendly innovations enabling the utilisation of surplus electricity. The Power to Gas Potentiality Atlas, which dena presented at the conference, offers further recommended courses of action. For example, when buying electricity, power to gas plants should no longer be burdened with charges to pass on to the end user, but should be identified as storage facilities – because electricity is not consumed through power to gas, but converted, stored and made available for other uses. For that reason, a change to the Electricity Market Act is essential. Without charging the end user, the cost balance sheet of power to gas plants would improve significantly.
Things are already moving forward following the amendment to the German Federal Emission Control Act passed by the Bundestag (Federal Parliament) in June. Fuels such as hydrogen and synthetic methane, which are produced with the help of renewable electricity, will be classed in future as “progressive fuels” and will therefore be able to contribute to the attainment of the greenhouse gas reduction quota. This also complies with the guidelines of the EU policy on the quality of fuels (Fuel Quality Directive).
Potentiality Atlas identifies four key regions
The Power to Gas Potentiality Atlas shows which applications and which regions in Germany provide the best preconditions for market development, and what will have to be done to improve framework conditions. For the analysis, dena consulted experts from politics, businesses, associations and research, and evaluated numerous studies. The atlas makes it easier for businesses to find suitable locations for power to gas plants. Using the information, political decision-makers can better assess the regional opportunities for the introduction of power to gas.
The regions around the Lower Elbe, Weser and Ems, Central Germany, Berlin and Brandenburg, the Neckar, and the Rhein, Main and Ruhr are particularly favourable locations for market development. Various pilot projects already exist here, and more are planned. Locations for generating electricity from renewable energy sources, and for using hydrogen and methane from power to gas, are available and can be linked effectively with each other. Particularly important here are the prospects for the use of hydrogen and methane in mobility, since power to gas has the best market opportunities in this sector. There are also benefits in linking locations in the chemical industry where hydrogen is used.
Finally, the key regions are distinguished by regional policies which exploit existing room for manouver and are aiming to expand power to gas. For this, it is necessary to strengthen cooperation between the various stakeholders at national, state and local level, and in industry and research.
Platform joins forces for power to gas
The Power to Gas Strategy Platform supports the further development of the power to gas system solution. It is being implemented by dena, along with 38 partners from industry, research and associations.
Further information on the Potentiality Atlas and the Strategy Platform is available atwww.powertogas.info.