Green energy specialist ITM Power has linked up with one of Germany’s top 10 local utility companies to investigate ways of storing electricity by turning it into hydrogen gas.
News of the new development comes days after oil giant Shell and National Grid signed up to join an alternative energy project led by the Sheffield firm.
The German tie up is Brightside-based ITM’s first in that country’s utilities market.
The two firms will investigate using electricity generated by renewable sources such as wind and wave power to run ITM Power’s rapid response electrolysis equipment, which breaks water down into hydrogen and oxygen.
Phil Doran, managing director of ITM’s recently launched German subsidiary, said: “There are many significant opportunities in Germany including energy storage using hydrogen gas injection into the gas grid and clean fuel provision for captive fleets and road vehicles.”
The German development in part mirrors the Hydrogen Gas Inject Feasibility Study, which ITM is leading in the UK and has now attracted backing from Shell and National Grid.
The project involves investigating the technical, financial and operational feasibility of injecting hydrogen, produced from water using ITM technology, into the UK gas supply.
Gas appliances like cookers, boilers and fires which are designed to run off natural gas will happily operate using a mixture of natural gas and hydrogen, although they would need to be converted to run on pure hydrogen, so injecting hydrogen into the gas mains could be an economical way of reducing the amount of fossil fuel gas being burnt.
The ITM Power project includes developing a generation model and simulating hydrogen production by a single wind farm.
Dr Graham Cooley, chief executive of ITM Power, said: “Having both Shell and National Grid contributing to this project will provide a significant level of industry expertise.
“We are delighted to be working with these highly respected organisations.”
ITM Power’s double success is the latest in a series of triumphs for the firm this year, which include securing a £1.1 million boost from the Carbon Trust to develop technology that helps hydrogen to become a viable alternative to petrol for powering vehicles.
The company has also become the lead player in the largest single sustainable energy project in the UK and has joined forces with US-based Infintium Fuel Cell Systems to develop the use of hydrogen to power firk lift trucks.