Put Wind in Your Tank—Vroom!

The planet’s first hybrid power plant on the grid in Germany

Yes, it can make hydrogen from wind power to fuel automobiles—and more.

Germany’s ENERTRAG has developed a hybrid power plant that converts wind power to hydrogen. The hydrogen can be stored for use in fuel cells to power automobiles or in other applications to produce heat or electricity.

The hybrid power plant went online yesterday in Prenzlau near Berlin in Germany. It is a €21M joint project of energy supplier ENERTRAG, oil company Total, power company Vattenfall, and railway Deutsche Bahn.

The hybrid power plant combines three proven energy technologies: wind, hydrogen, and biogas. You can see the components depicted in the photo below. The large tanks store biogas and the smaller ones store hydrogen.

How does it work? The heart of the hybrid power plant is a 500 kW pressure electrolyzer that generates hydrogen with a technique that uses the plant’s three wind turbines—they are connected to the grid too. The generated hydrogen is then stored in large tanks where it waits to be used.

The stored hydrogen is used in two ways: it is supplied to fuel pumps for use in hydrogen powered automobiles, and it is supplied to the plant’s biogas component. The stored biogas is used to produce heat or electricity.

Of course, that’s a simple explanation. You can find more detailed technical information here or by clicking on the infographic below.

The developers, and the German government, are bullish on this new hybrid power plant technology. It addresses both storage and baseload challenges that must be met for renewable energy to continue to be successful.

Imagine, some Germans will soon be driving into a filling station and saying “fill ‘er up”—with fifty liters of wind.

Filed under energywindwind energyhydrogenbiogas