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Hydrogenics, Enbridge to grow utility-scale energy storage via hydrogen in gas grids

In Canada, Hydrogenics has signed an agreement with Enbridge to jointly develop utility-scale energy storage through adding hydrogen to the natural gas grids in North America.

The collaboration will combine Hydrogenics’ know-how in water electrolysis with Enbridge’s expertise in the ownership and operation of natural gas pipeline networks and renewable energy generation.

The collaboration will initially focus on the deployment of utility-scale energy storage in Ontario, with the opportunity to expand into Enbridge’s operations elsewhere.

‘This clean energy solution establishes a bridge between the electricity and natural gas networks, to bring seasonal storage capabilities to electricity networks,’ explains Chuck Szmurlo, VP of alternative & emerging technology at Enbridge.

He adds that the initiative also underscores the importance of pipelines in meeting the objective of increased renewable energy penetration.

With ‘Power-to-Gas’, the hydrogen produced during periods of excess renewable generation will be injected into the existing natural gas pipeline network. This will proportionally increase the renewable energy content in natural gas pipelines, for essentially just the operating cost of the electrolyser.

Small quantities of hydrogen can be manageable in existing natural gas pipeline networks. With the significant scale of the natural gas pipeline network, these quantities of hydrogen would have a significant impact on the potential for electricity energy storage.

In 2008 Enbridge inaugurated the first 2.2 MW Direct Fuel Cell-Energy Recovery Generation™ (DFC-ERG™) power plant, developed in partnership with Connecticut-based FuelCell Energy. The power plant directs the high-pressure natural gas in pipelines through a turbo expander, which captures the ‘waste’ energy for power generation.


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Energy infrastructure  •  Energy storage including Fuel cells




03 May 2012
Given the modest efficiency of electrolysis and the low price of NG, the economics of this venture seem shaky. Also, taking high-quality energy from renewables (electricity) and converting it into a fuel that requires a thermal cycle to again produce electricity seems like a bad idea.

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