Uniper Opens Methanisation Unit
German energy firm Uniper said its 2014-opened 2-MW power-to-gas (PTG) unit in Falkenhagen near Berlin has now been supplemented by a newly-opened methanation plant.
The company said May 9 that its new methanation plant, which took ten months to build, produces up to 57 m³ per hour of synthetic natural gas at normal pressure and temperature, which equates to 600 kWh/h. It noted that, for comparison's sake, the same amount of energy (600 kWh) could heat a 50m² apartment for a month.
Whereas the PTG unit used to feed pure hydrogen into the local gas grid, the new methanation plant now supplies the local gas grid with synthetic gas. The new unit combines hydrogen (from the PTG unit) with carbon dioxide (from a bioethanol plant) to produce methane (CH4). Spare heat released by the methanation process is to be used by a nearby veneer plant.
The rationale behind the investments is that surplus wind electricity is used to electrolyse water at the PTG unit, producing hydrogen, and the latter is then combined with CO2 that might otherwise be emitted.
Uniper board member for innovation Eckhardt Rummler said: “This allows us to integrate renewables into the energy system so that they can be utilised in new applications. Now it’s up to policy makers to make adjustments to the legal environment in such a way so that power-to-gas facilities will at last be able to operate profitably at a commercial scale.”
Such projects are not cheap. This one received funds from the Store&Go project, part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 research programme. Uniper’s statement did not disclose capital costs for either facility.