Together, versatile natural gas and renewables are a dream team. Sometimes the wind does not blow or the sun goes in, while at other times surplus power is produced. For their share of the energy mix to keep on growing over the long term, renewables need a means of compensating for fluctuations in output.
Intermittent renewable electricity output is not the only problem. Something will also have to be done with all the excess power generated by giant wind farms and solar parks at times when demand is low. This surplus energy needs to be stored so that it can be made available during peak periods, but the capacity of the pumped storage plants used to date is far from sufficient. The answer is gas. The gas transportation and storage infrastructure in place has all the makings of a buffer storage system for green power.
Harvesting, storing and supplying solar energy: RAG is currently testing this groundbreaking approach to energy production and storage in a unique pilot project. Storage of hydrogen, produced using solar energy, is being trialled at a small, natural, depleted gas reservoir in Pilsbach, Upper Austria.
Thanks to their storability, renewables are the only energy forms that can act as a straight replacement for conven-tional energy – and the gas storage facilities already operating in Austria provide the necessary infrastructure.
In terms of the strategic development of energy systems for the future, the results of the pilot will be hugely significant for companies, political decision-makers and public authorities.
The project was selected by an international panel of experts and is being financed by Austria’s Climate and Energy Fund.
For more information visit www.underground-sun-storage.at