ITM Power is poised to unveil a breakthrough in the use of hydrogen as a means of storing excess electricity from wind turbines.
The Sheffield-based environmentally friendly fuel company has developed a 1 Megawatt hydrogen production plant that uses electricity generated by wind turbines that would otherwise be wasted to power state-of-the- art electrolysers that produce hydrogen from water.
The hydrogen can then be used to fuel vehicles or fed into gas mains, reducing the greenhouse gasses produced when pure natural gas is burnt.
ITM says scaling up its equipment to work with 1 Megawatt power supplies is an important step forward because it fits the standard requirements of energy companies.
Chief executive Dr Graham Cooley said: “Megawatt scale energy storage is now a vital plant component in the power industry to balance supply and demand and this product is ITM’s first offering to the sector.
“The need for Megawatt scale energy storage is here today and hydrogen via electrolysis is easily deployed at this scale.”
ITM’s 1 Megawatt plant fits into a standard 20ft container and can produce 400 kilogrammes of hydrogen a day.
The system is modular so further units can be added to cope with higher levels of electricity production.
The Sheffield company’s system will be unveiled officially at energy exhibitions in Hannover and Aberdeen and provides an answer to critics who dismiss wind power because it is only available intermittently and nothing can be done with the electricity generated by wind turbines when there is no demand.
ITM’s plant can produce hydrogen at 80 times atmospheric pressure, allowing it to be injected directly into the gas grid, where it mixes with natural gas and therefore can be used without modifying burners, which is necessary when using pure hydrogen.