Power to Flex – Flexible energy supply based on energy storage
Diverging supply and demand for renewable energies can be balanced out across the overall network. An alternative to this is decentralised use. The Power to Flex project is developing innovative pilot projects for storage methods on a small scale so that power produced directly in households and small business can also be used at flexible times as electricity, heat or fuel.
April 2016 until October 2019
(Institute of Networked Energy Systems has been involved since April 2017)
INTERREG V A Deutschland-Nederland
Institute of Networked Energy Systems
Oldenburger Energie Cluster OLEC e.V.
3N Dienstleistungen GmbH
Jaske & Wolf Verfahrenstechnik GmbH
PLANET - Planungsgruppe Energie und Technik GbR
Project Manager at the Institute of Networked Energy Systems:
Dr. Michael Kröner
Flexible storage options are required in order for households and small businesses to be able to use the power that they produce directly as electricity, heat or fuel at any time. The Power to Flex project uses test facilities to illustrate how residential and commercial units can become independent standalone energy sources. The Institute of Networked Energy Systems is involved in two sub-projects for this initiative supported by the INTERREG Germany-Netherlands programme of the European Union: the development of a small hydrogen fuelling station and optimisation of an electrolyser.
Both of these focal areas convert surplus power into hydrogen. This chemical storage system has one crucial advantage compared with a traditional rechargeable battery: the energy is available over the long term, meaning that seasonal fluctuations in production can be balanced out. This allows solar power to be used in winter and wind power form the darker half of the year to be used in summer.
If the aim is to power a fuel cell vehicle, the hydrogen must meet high quality criteria. Therefore the Institute of Networked Energy Systems developed a "fuelling testing module" for the Power to Flex-Project, which is able to detect contaminants and moisture in the gas.
Credit: DLR (German Aerospace Center)
As a fuel for mobility, the hydrogen must meet high quality criteria. Contaminants and moisture in the gas can only be tolerated to a limited extent if the aim is to power a fuel cell vehicle, otherwise the fuel cells' catalysers will suffer. In order to guarantee its potency and long-term viability, the hydrogen produced locally must be tested for purity. The Institute of Networked Energy Systems is developing a "fuelling testing module" for this purpose that holds 50 litres of compressed hydrogen and maintains a pressure of 700 bar. This allows gas samples to be taken during the testing phase that can be sent to the laboratory for analysis.
As part of the second project, the Institute is studying an electrolyser for hydrogen production in order to develop new storage methods directly in households. The method of operation has a considerable influence on the potency and long-term viability of the hydrogen. In order to determine the optimum operating method, the electrolyser is being analysed at test benches developed in-house that can simulate a household's variable production and load profiles. This allows an entire year to be simulated in the laboratory within the space of just a few weeks. The data acquired allows the durability of the cells and membranes in the electrolyser to be extended by adapting the operating method to the individual circumstances.
Further information on the Research Project Power to Flex: