Making the switch to renewable energy requires a rethinking of the electricity network in terms of grid balancing and energy storage. For an insight into these challenges, cH2ange spoke to Dr Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power, a manufacturer of pioneering integrated hydrogen energy solutions to enhance the use of renewable energy. To move towards 100% renewables, we’ll need a significant amount of energy storage because the sun doesn’t shine at night, and the wind doesn’t blow all the time. And that’s why hydrogen is absolutely fundamental to the future. ITM Power specializes in what’s known as Power to Gas (P2G) technology, which involves making hydrogen using renewable power. A device called an electrolyser splits water into hydrogen and oxygen when an electric current is passed through. This hydrogen is used either in the gas grid or for refueling vehicles. The gas grid in the UK for example is three times the size of the power grid: there’s about 350 terawatt hours of energy flowing through the electricity grid every year, and about 1,000 terawatt hours in the gas grid. The primary difference between the two energy networks is that electricity has no energy storage, whereas there’s a huge amount of energy storage in the gas grid. A lot of people immediately think of batteries when we talk about energy storage. And if you want one or two hours of energy storage, batteries are ideal. But if you want hours, days, months, years of energy storage, at massive volumes, and I mean terawatt hours of volume, then you can’t do it with batteries. But you can put hydrogen straight into the gas grid.
Medium 22nd Sept 2017 read more »