The expansion of energy storage technology is a key factor for the success of the energy transition process. In early January 2015 Dr Wolfgang Benesch, Head of Research and Development at STEAG GmbH, presented a new research project with STEAG involvement: the development team at STEAG’s Lünen power plant is to work with international partners on the further development of Power to Liquid technology. Carbon dioxide emissions from the coal-fired power plant are to be converted into fuel. The project is being sponsored by the EU’s ‘Horizon 2020’ research programme to the tune of 11 million euros.
The project partners are Carbon Recycling International (CRI), Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Europe, Hydrogenics and I-DEALS, and several universities and research institutes in Europe. CRI is to contribute an important element to the project: at its production facility in Grindavik, Iceland: CRI is already producing methanol on the basis of renewables. The technology uses electricity to transform CO2 into methanol. Methanol is a widely used gasoline additive, and is also used in biodiesel production and the manufacture of chemical derivatives.
Dr Wofgang Benesch, head of R&D, issued a statement outlining that the project was a further step towards the development of marketable storage technologies at STEAG. At the start of 2014 another storage project was also making its market debut: LESSY, one of Germany’s first lithium-ion storage batteries was approved for use in network stabilisation by the transmission system operator. STEAG now supplies output from the LESSY storage battery on the market as the primary balancing power required for the stabilisation of the electricity grid. The large-format storage battery is now dimensioned sufficiently to store or deliver a capacity of 1 MW within a few seconds.
Apart from storage of power in batteries (Power to Electricity) and its conversion into fuel (Power to Fuel) the Essen-based company is also involved in further areas of development for the future. These include research projects in the fields of Power to Gas and Power to Chemicals. As Benesch explains, for an integrative power generation company like STEAG it is important to conduct research and development into storage facilities without being confined to any single technology. The area of activity has therefore been given the working title ‘Power to X’. (STEAG GmbH/Si)