Together with Rhineland-Palatinate’s Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Uwe Hüser and the Mayor of Pirmasens Dr. Bernhard Matheis, PFI Director Dr. Kerstin Schulte and PFI Chairman Ralph Rieker laid the foundation stone for a power-to-gas plant at a groundbreaking ceremony held on 17 January. The ceremony took place in the presence of some 100 guests at Pirmasens-Winzeln Energy Park. Breakthrough technology: The plant will store surplus solar and wind energy in the form of biomethane, which can then be fed into the natural gas grid. Future expansion to a biorefinery is planned.
Power-to-gas transformation of surplus energy by means of biological methanation offers an innovative solution to the urgent problem of storing the excess amounts of power delivered by wind turbines and solar arrays since both generation methods are subject to wide daily and seasonal fluctuations.
A power-to-gas plant functions in the following way: Surplus power is used for electrolytic production of hydrogen which, together with carbon dioxide (CO2), is subsequently transformed biologically into biomethane. Germany’s well established high-capacity natural gas grid permits long-term storage of biomethane for use as and when required. A novel feature of this PFI pilot plant is the use of special methanogenic microorganisms in a bioreactor. The CO2 required for methanogenesis will initially be provided by the CO2 fraction of the biogas produced by the PFI biogas plant at Pirmasens-Winzeln Energy Park and will later also come from industrial plants.
The configuration of the PFI plant with a 2.5-MW electrolysis unit is unique in Germany. It is dimensioned to feed up to 440,000 m3 of biomethane produced from wind and solar power annually into the natural gas grid.
The State of Rhineland-Palatinate has funded development of Pirmasens-Winzeln Energy Park to the tune of €1m and the power-to-gas pilot plant to the extent of €1.3m. The funding is provided partly by the state itself and partly by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The power-to-gas plant represents an extension of the existing thermally self-sufficient biogas plant which is located in Pirmasens Energy Park and in which PFI has already invested €3m. Another stage in the expansion of the plant to a biorefinery will be the production of basic chemicals such as biopolymers or the sugar substitute xylitol.
“The power-to-gas extension of the PFI plant in Pirmasens-Winzeln Energy Park and other innovative research concepts will do much to secure national and international recognition as a major competence centre in the field of biotechnology. Our investment in these developments underlines our commitment to the Western Palatinate. In addition to securing the future of PFI, this investment will also create new, high-grade jobs and attract additional technology-based companies to the site”, according to PFI Managing Director Dr. Kerstin Schulte. Mayor Dr. Bernhard Matheis also sees the PFI pilot plant as a valuable asset enhancing the reputation of Pirmasens as a technology centre.
Link: SWR Report (German)