GRI Sector Disclosures: Access 2013
For hydrogen to help accelerate Europe’s decarbonisation journey, the necessary infrastructure has to be tested and put in place. ESK GmbH, a wholly owned subsidiary of E.ON company Westenergie, is doing its part by participating in HyPSTER. This project, run by French gas storage operator Storengy, aims to convert a small brine-filled salt cavern near Étrez, a town of 800 inhabitants located 70 kilometres north of Lyon, to store hydrogen. HyPSTER, which stands for “hydrogen pilot storage for larger ecosystem replication,” will be a stepping stone toward large-scale hydrogen storage. Cavern storage facilities will be an integral part of tomorrow’s hydrogen economy, because they can balance out high residual loads or surpluses. Together with sector-integration technologies like power-to-gas, caverns will provide the flexibility necessary for managing increasingly volatile supply and demand. ESK is responsible for the main engineering services, enabling it to extend its underground gas storage expertise to hydrogen. E.ON subsidiary Hansewerk will also support the project by assessing the feasibility of replicating the project in northern Germany. HyPSTER, which got under way in the first quarter of 2021, runs through year-end 2023. Sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) is a widely used insulating gas in medium- and high-voltage switchgear. Its material propertiesmake it particularly well suited for insulation and for extinguishing switching arcs. However, the use of SF6 in such switchgear involves technical challenges and is thus comparatively expensive. Moreover, SF6 is a greenhouse gas (GHG) with a much greater global-warming potential (GWP) than carbon dioxide. We therefore strive continually not only to minimise fugitive emissions but also to explore new, climate-friendlier insulating gases. That’s why in 2021 we joined a three-year research project that brings together 21 network operators, government agencies, and equipment manufacturers to study such alternative gases and new types of switchgear. In addition, E.ON DSOs are conducting several pilot projects to study SF6-free technology. The aim is to accelerate the development and deployment of these technologies and thus reduce GHG emissions in network operations. HanseWerk, an E.ON subsidiary in northern Germany, will install a large-scale electrolyser in the port of Hamburg to produce zero-carbon hydrogen. The electrolyser, whose annual output will be about 2,900 metric tonnes, will be powered by renewable electricity. This will yield annual carbon savings of over 33,000 metric tonnes relative to conventional hydrogen production from natural gas. The electrolyser will help Hamburg meet its growing hydrogen needs and serve as a building block of Europe’s future hydrogen economy. Construction began in April 2021 and is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2026. The project is one of 12 large-scale green-hydrogen projects comprising the Norddeutsches Reallabor (“Northern German Real-life Laboratory”). This partially government-funded research programme is dedicated to propelling the energy transition with hydrogen. Another of the projects involves studying the feasibility of making gas distribution networks hydrogen-ready. Northern Germany is home to much of the country’s wind capacity, some of which has to be taken offline on particularly windy days to prevent grid overload. If connected to an electrolyser, these turbines could keep spinning to power the production of zero-carbon green hydrogen without threatening grid stability. The hydrogen could then be fed into hydrogen-ready gas networks and thus help decarbonize any sector that consumes gas. Our power grids are among Europe’s most reliable. But, as west-central Germany experienced in July 2021, severe weather can cause extended outages. In these cases, hospitals and other sensitive customers need an auxiliary supply of power. LINDA 2.0, a battery-based emergency power unit charged with renewable energy, is an award-winning solution for such situations. In February 2021, E.ON DSO LEW launched PowerbankXL, a sub-project whose purpose is to scale up LINDA technology and deploy large-scale systems capable of creating island power networks within the outage area. Field trials of PowerbankXL will begin in the first half of 2022 and continue until mid-2023. With the North Sea on one side and the Baltic on the other, the German state of Schleswig-Holstein is blustery. Not surprisingly, it’s already home to almost 100,000 wind turbines, with more being added all the time. Managing their continually fluctuating output is challenging. That’s why in September 2021 E.ON DSO Schleswig-Holstein Netz joined ten partner organisations to launch VeN²uS. This three-year, government-funded project aims to develop and test an adaptive, interconnected network-protection system. The system, which will consist of adaptive algorithm and related devices, will automatically ensure network stability and power quality despite fluctuating renewables feed-on. The technology will enable Schleswig-Holstein to harness more of its abundant renewable resource while maintaining supply security. Development of the algorithm is under way; a field trial is planned for the second half of 2022. E.ON’s Dynamic Solution enables DSOs to integrate new sustainable technologies – such as solar panels, heat pumps, and electric-vehicle charging stations – without the need for costly infrastructure upgrades. The solution, which is installed in substations, performs smart peak-load management. It can therefore ensure that renewable electricity produced within the grid segment controlled by the substation is supplied to as many households as possible without exceeding the substation’s capacity. This will make it easier for customers to embrace low-carbon technologies and thus to comply with new sustainable building regulations. The first Dynamic Solution began operating in a grid segment near Glasgow, Scotland, in mid-2021.