North Sea energy role for city firm

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ITM Power, the Sheffield-based energy storage and clean fuel specialist, is to play a leading role in a new drive to make sure every kilowatt generated by offshore wind farms gets used.

Brightside Lane-based ITM has been named one of the partners in a newly established Europe-wide North Sea Power-to-Gas Platform.

The initiative aims to answer one of the main criticisms of wind power, which centres on the claim that energy just has to be wasted when the wind blows and there is no demand for electricity.

One solution is to use ‘spare’ electricity from offshore and onshore wind farms to generate hydrogen from water, using ITM Power’s advanced electrolyser technology.

The hydrogen produced can be used in a number of ways. Applications include injecting limited amounts directly into high pressure industrial and low pressure domestic gas supplies or turning it into methane – which is the same as the natural gas flowing through the mains.

It could also be used as fuel for fuel cell-powered electric-engined cars and vans or stored and turned back into electricity when needed.

ITM is already working on a contract with Thüga Group, the largest network of energy companies in Germany, to supply a 360kW Power-to-Gas energy storage plant, which will be used to generate hydrogen from renewable sources and inject it directly into the gas mains serving the German financial capital of Frankfurt.

It is also leading a UK initiative involving oil giant Shell and National Grid to inject hydrogen, produced by electroysis using ‘green’ electricity into the UK gas mains.

Experts say Power-to-Gas initiatives are of particular interest in and around the North Sea because both the onshore and offshore natural gas infrastructure is well developed.