Essen, Lünen. The expansion of storage technologies is essential if the move towards energy from renewable sources is to succeed. Last week, 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 further developments of Power-to-Liquid technology. Carbon dioxide emissions from the coal-fired power plant are to be converted into fuel. The project is sponsored by the EU’s Horizon research program with a grant amounting to 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.
R&D manager Dr. Wolfgang Benesch outlines the importance of the project as follows: “This project is a further step in the development of marketable storage technologies at STEAG.” At the start of 2014, another storage project was already making its debut on the market: LESSY, one of Germany’s first large format lithium-ion storage batteries, was approved for use in network stabilization by the transmission system operator. STEAG now supplies output from the LESSY storage battery on the market, as the primary balancing power required for stabilization of the electricity grid. The large format storage battery is currently dimensioned sufficiently to store or deliver a capacity of one megawatt (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 fields of development for the future. These include research projects in the areas of Power to Gas and Power to Chemicals. As Benesch says, “STEAG is an integrative power generation company which is open to new technologies. In that respect, it is also important to us to conduct research and development into storage facilities without being confined to any single technology. In consequence, we have given this area of our activities the working title ‘Power to X.”