A new power couple heads to Munich


Terminology that was coined by the IT sector is often applied to the energy transition. Sometimes, disruption is used. However, convergence may be more apt.

This is certainly the case espoused by advocates of power-to-gas (P2G) or power-to-X: the coming together and coupling of various parts of the energy sector – including those that superficially may appear to be rivals.

The underlying development that those supportive of P2G foresee is that ‘excess’ electricity generated by zero-marginal-cost solar and wind facilities, can be converted to gas – and then utilized in a range of applications for which battery storage is either unfeasible or entirely unsuitable. It is envisaged that the production of ‘green’ hydrogen, or even methane, may be attractive particularly at those times that solar PV or wind is producing electricity in excess of what is needed on the grid.

The conversion of solar electricity to gas, particularly hydrogen, is something that James Watson has been “increasingly convinced of” in recent months. Watson, who served as the CEO of SolarPower Europe for well over four years, is now the Secretary General of Eurogas. In advance of his taking on the new role, he told pv magazine that while he still sees a significant role for battery storage in the European energy system of the future, P2G presents opportunities for both the solar PV and gas sectors.

“I think when you have this huge amount of gas infrastructure that exists today, it is unlikely that we’re not going to keep it active and full,” said Watson. “Thinking about things like that, then the opportunity is to fill this gas network with gas from renewable feedstock.”

New partnership

Following through on this vision, Watson has brought Eurogas into a new tri-party cooperative agreement to advance sector coupling, with P2G at its core, at Europe’s largest energy industry platform.

In 2019, Eurogas is now collaborating with both Hydrogen Europe and The smarter E Europe to deliver a new all-day conference program focused on power-to-X, which will see energy suppliers and retailers, generation asset owners and operators, grid operators and P2G equipment suppliers come together to discuss the future of green gas production from renewable sources. Investors and politicians engaged in the sector will also be attending and taking part in discussions.

“Solar and gas could be one of the couples of the future,” said Hydrogen Europe’s Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, in a release announcing the new cooperation. “The dream to produce endless energy from the sun and to transport it cheaply as hydrogen via the existing gas grids can become a reality.”

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