Partners green light "Energiepark Mainz"
Power utility Stadtwerke Mainz, Linde, Siemens and RheinMain University of Applied Sciences to join forces in setting up electrolysis plant in Hechtsheim
The Energiepark Mainz, planned for the Hechtsheim district of the city of Mainz, can go ahead, with construction set to start in the spring of 2014. This has today been confirmed by Siemens, the Linde Group, RheinMain University of Applied Sciences and Stadtwerke Mainz at a joint meeting in Mainz which saw the appropriate agreements concluded. This finally gives the green light to this research project, which is receiving financial support from the German Ministry of Economics and Technology. After its commissioning in 2015, the Energiepark Mainz is set to make a significant contribution to the success of Germany’s ’Energiewende’, or energy turnaround: in this pilot project, a specially developed electrolysis plant will produce major quantities of hydrogen, using energy sources including ’green’ electricity from wind power. The hydrogen can be stored, loaded into tank trailers or fed directly into the natural gas grid, for heat or electricity. This allows the storage of electricity from renewable energy sources.
The background to the Mainz-based project is the steadily growing use of renewable sources for power generation in Germany. Photovoltaic and wind power plants often deliver electricity at times when it cannot be directly consumed. “Further storage possibilities are absolutely essential if the energy turnaround is to make further progress,” is how the directors of the Stadtwerke, Dr. Werner Sticksel and Detlev Höhne, explain the rationale behind the ambitious project. “The Energiepark Mainz provides an innovative solution to this key question affecting German energy policy.”
At the heart of the research facility will be the electrolysis hall, featuring a hydrogen electrolysis system developed by Siemens in which water will be broken down into its constituents of hydrogen and oxygen. The principle of electrolysis has been tried and tested over a number of decades. The Mainz plant is remarkable in another aspect: “It will boast a potential power intake of 6 megawatts, making it the world’s largest hydrogen electrolysis facility using modern PEM technology. This puts the plant in Mainz in an appropriate performance category to ease bottlenecks in the distribution network,” explains Gaëlle Hotellier, who heads the Hydrogen Solutions Business Segment at Siemens. In future, similar plants could be put to effective use in a large number of locations.
Construction of the Energiepark Mainz is to commence in the spring of next year on the site set aside for the development.
Around 17 million euros are being invested to realize the energy park, with support coming from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology as part of its “Energy Storage Funding Initiative”. The “Energiepark Mainz” will be one of Germany’s “beacon projects” in energy storage based on hydrogen electrolysis.
“Hydrogen is a highly interesting energy carrier, because it is easy to store and to use in a wide variety of ways,” explains Dr. Harald Ranke, who is responsible for Linde’s Clean Energy Technology activities. The gas produced in Mainz can, for instance, be transported to hydrogen filling stations by tank trailers, and used as environmentally–friendly fuel for emission-free fuel-cell vehicles. In addition, the hydrogen from Hechtsheim is to be fed into the natural gas grid, where it will be available for gas heating or modern gas and combined heat and power plants.
The findings from the research project will be utilized and assessed as part of at least one doctorate thesis. “I am already looking forward eagerly to this exciting project,” says Prof. Dr. Birgit Scheppat of the RheinMain University of Applied Sciences, “This project allows us to trial the conversion of wind energy to hydrogen on a large technical scale, and to test out which operational management concepts make sense. The objective is to optimize the use of energy from volatile sources in both economic and ecological terms.”
Further information can be found on the Internet at www.energiepark-mainz.de
Stadtwerke Mainz AG is one of the leading municipal utilities on the German market. Its sole shareholder is the city of Mainz. The SWM corporate group ensures reliability in the supply of energy (electricity, gas, heat), drinking water and mobility to the city of Mainz and the surrounding region. The company has been successfully pursing a sustainable change in energy policy for a number of years now.
The Linde Group is a world-leading gases and engineering company with around 63,000 employees in more than 100 countries. Under the “Clean Technology by Linde” label, the company offers a wide range of products and technologies that help to render renewable energy sources financially viable, and significantly slow down the depletion of fossil resources or reduce the level of CO2 emitted. This ranges from specialty gases for solar cell production, industrial-scale CO2 separation and application technologies to alternative fuels and energy carriers such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) and hydrogen.
Siemens AG is a global powerhouse in electrical engineering and electronics, operating in the fields of industry, energy and healthcare as well as providing infrastructure solutions, primarily for cities and metropolitan areas. For over 165 years, Siemens has stood for technological excellence, innovation, quality, reliability and internationality. The company is the world’s largest provider of environmental technologies. Around 40 per cent of its total revenue stems from green products and solutions. In its Drive Technologies Division, Siemens is developing a hydrogen electrolysis system based on PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) technology.
The RheinMain University of Applied Sciences is one of the largest and one of the leading institutions of its kind. It is recognized for its modern teaching program as well as its application-oriented research. With over 3,000 students, the Rüsselsheim-based Faculty of Engineering is the university’s largest. It has been researching into hydrogen and fuel cell technology for a number of years now and is involved in several related projects and networks of excellence.
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