Falkenhagen restarts power-to-gas plant

Uniper
The Heat is used in a veneer plant close by, © Uniper

Store&Go, a European Union research project, entered phase two with a methanation unit being added to the power-to-gas system in Pritzwalk’s Falkenhagen suburb, in the German region of Prignitz. Set up right alongside the facility for producing pure hydrogen, the new unit will create renewable methane at a maximum rate of 57 normal cubic meters, or 600 kilowatt-hours, per hour and inject the gas into the national pipeline network. Uniper, which operates the plant, said in a statement that the second phase, during which renewable power would be converted into synthetic methane, would start a new chapter of electricity production in an integrated energy system.

“This pipeline-connected power-to-gas installation is the perfect opportunity to explore the technological and regulatory issues we face when constructing and operating storage facilities. […] Carbon-neutral gas could be essential to meeting the EU’s decarbonization and clean energy targets,” said Christian Ehler, who represents Brandenburg state in the European Parliament. “To unlock the full potential of power-to-gas and let it become the green battery that will drive market transformation, we need fewer regulations and equal opportunities for the builders and operators of these plants,” said Michael Riechel, the president of the gas and water industry association DVGW.

In 2013, the site was among the first to test this kind of hydrogen storage. Three years later, a consortium of 27 organizations launched Store&Go, supported by the EU with EUR 18 million. By contrast, there has been no information about what will happen to a similar system in Hamburg’s neighborhood Reitbrook. Uniper, which co-managed that project until its end in 2016, said that the installation had been “shut down for now but is ready to come online again if needed.”

Regulatory agency against power-to-gas

When the methanation system was put into operation, Axel Wietfeld, chief executive of Uniper’s German subsidiary, Uniper Energy Storage, called for changes to the laws that govern these types of systems. But Jochen Homann, head of the agency that regulates the energy market, dismissed the idea, according to the Schweriner Volkszeitung. He reportedly said, “We don’t want the gas pipelines to add to challenges in other areas, such as electric power production and telecommunications.”

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