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La revue soGaz #5

Power-to-Gas, a future solution for storing electricity from renewable sources

A joint study carried out by ADEME (Agence de l'Environnement et de la Maîtrise de l'Energie), GRTgaz and GrDF.

30 October 2014

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The conversion of electricity into gas which is subsequently injected into the networks would enable excess electricity generated by renewable sources such as wind turbines or photovoltaic cells to be put to good use. This conversion principle, called Power-to-Gas, is currently being studied in a number of European countries.

From their projected energy scenarios for 2030 and 2050, ADME and GrDF joined forces with GRTgaz to assess the current situation internationally with regard to advances and prospects for Power-to-Gas.

The study considers that this technology should be fully operational in France by 2030. With a penetration of electrical energy from renewables greater than 50% by 2050, Power-to-Gas would enable between 20 and 30 TWh/year of renewable gas to be injected into the existing networks thus constituting a long-duration solution for storing the excess.

By using the large storage capacities of the gas infrastructures (in pipes and underground storage facilities), the conversion of electricity into gas is the subject of research in a number of European countries such as Germany and Denmark. Power-to-Gas involves converting renewable electricity into hydrogen by electrolysing water, hydrogen which can then be injected into the natural gas network as is or after a methanisation stage which consists of combining it with CO2 to convert it into methane.

The development of intermittent electric renewables such as wind turbines and photovoltaic cells requires solutions to be found for optimising their insertion into the energy networks. If production is too low, scalable standby production capacities must be available; conversely, production greater than demand requires the development of storage capacities and/or conversion of the excess.

This study covers 4 basic aspects of the development of this new distribution channel: