Medium and small power-to-gas conversion already viable

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Germany and the U.S. state of Texas could already host wind-fuelled power-to-gas projects that could compete in cost terms with conventional power sources.

That is the headline finding of research by a team of economists from Germany’s Technical University of Munich (TUM), the University of Mannheim and Stanford.

According to the study, published in Nature Energy, medium and small-sized power-to-gas facilities could already produce hydrogen at competitive costs provided they do not exceed certain production levels, in Germany and Texas. The researchers say such facilities could be particularly suitable for energy-intensive metal and electronics manufacturing industries or for powering forklift truck fleets on factory sites.

The economists said large-scale, wind-based power-to-gas in the two regions analyzed in their study could be economically viable by 2030. They cite refineries and ammonia production facilities as possible consumers based on the assumption “wind power and electrolyte costs maintain the downward trajectory seen in recent years”.

Solar potential

Although the model developed is based on wind power, the authors of the study also cite solar as an energy source for power-to-gas. Their model is said to be applicable to other countries, and to provide a planning blueprint for industry and energy policy.

“Power utilities can become hydrogen suppliers for industry,” the economists suggest. “The operator can decide at any time: should I sell the energy or convert it?” added research coordinator Stefan Reichelstein.

Germany already hosts power-to-gas projects, including a 100 MW pilot facility in Lower Saxony. Transmission system operator TenneT and Dutch natural gas infrastructure and transport company Gasunie recently published the Infrastructure Outlook 2050 study which claims ambitious EU climate targets can only be reached through deeper integration of power and gas infrastructure, with power-to-gas supporting renewables.