Bilfinger is developing a demonstration plant to dry green hydrogen, thus helping reduce dependence on natural gas.
The joint project with the Institute of Thermodynamics at Leibniz University in Hanover and EWE GASSPEICHER GmbH is being sponsored by the German federal state of Lower Saxony and is an important part of Germany’s energy transition.
The process allows the efficient and large-scale hydrogen treatment for the storage and subsequent on-demand injection of hydrogen into pipelines. The plant will be delivered to Rüdersdorf in eastern Germany in early 2023.
Bilfinger is drawing on its many years of experience and expertise with a process already used on a large scale for natural gas in gas storage and has proven its reliability and efficiency over the course of several decades.
The storage of green electricity – i.e. electricity from renewable sources such as wind and sun – is a major challenge in this day and age. Hydrogen is an important storage medium. Electrical power is converted into hydrogen and will be stored safely and for the long term in so-called caverns in deep layers of the earth, similar to natural gas. EWE GASSPEICHER is currently working on this proof in a research project in Rüdersdorf.
The hydrogen must then be dried before it can be injected into pipelines and transported further. The technology used by Bilfinger allows for large-scale treatment of hydrogen that is both economical and efficient. After it is withdrawn from storage – for example, from a cavern – the hydrogen is dried and then either immediately converted back into electricity or fed into the pipeline. Consumers can thus be supplied with energy as flexibly as is the case with natural gas.
“The implementation of this project is a major step forward in the energy transition. Decentralized hydrogen drying through absorption for gas storage and pipeline injection is an important step for the hydrogen economy. This technology allows hydrogen to be treated economically on a large scale and enables renewable energies to be integrated into our energy system. Hydrogen produced with the help of wind and solar power or hydrogen that is about to be stored in caverns can thus be fed into the transport grid”, says Olaf Lies, Lower Saxony’s Minister of Environment.
The project is being carried out by Bilfinger Engineering & Maintenance GmbH, which is located in the Northern German city of Cloppenburg. The company is responsible for the design and manufacturing of the plant.
Other partners in the project include the Institute of Thermodynamics at Leibniz University in Hanover, which provides scientific support, and EWE GASSPEICHER GmbH, at whose storage facility the hydrogen drying process will initially be operated and tested. Following this test phase, the plant will be integrated into hydrogen production in 2023 / 2024 so that hydrogen can be dried before being injected into pipelines.
Bilfinger provides services throughout the entire hydrogen value chain – from production, storage and delivery through to utilization. Services cover consulting and engineering, subsequent plant construction, design and build services (general contractor), and all maintenance and service activities. In the Netherlands, for example, Bilfinger is currently responsible for the basic engineering of a compressor plant for gas grid operator Gasunie to store hydrogen in underground caverns as part of the so-called HyStock Project.