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Using renewable Energies for decentralized production of synthetic natural gas.

Short description (max. 250 characters)
Using renewable energies for the decentralized production of synthetic natural gas, provides a storage medium with high energy density as well as high usability, utilizing and expanding existing infrastructures.

Key benefits (max. 250 characters)
Natural Gas is a widely used resource, making the technology for transport and storage readily available. End consumer applications are already installed, making the technology immediately usable.

Detailed description (max. 500 words)
One of the biggest challenges for a zero-emission society is the decentralized production of energy and its storage. Efficient battery technologies are not widely available and use massive amounts of rare resources, if applied on a large scale. Natural Gas as a storage medium has the advantage of high energy density as well as transportability without energy loss. Storage is easily scalable, allowing grid based storage to supply energy where needed.

The idea is to use for instance wind or solar energy to electrolyse water into hydrogen in a first step. In a second step you produce synthetic natural gas through methanation of the hydrogen, removing CO2 from the atmosphere, or using CO2 seperated in the later used combustion process.

With this you basically close the carbon cycle. The CO2 you emit during the combustion process is removed from the atmosphere in the production of the gas, giving it a net CO2 balance of zero.

In a first step, you can change transport and heating solutions (and maybe even partially power plants) already to gas, reducing the CO2 emissions compared to oil or coal based products. Then you can gradually replace that fossil gas with synthetic gas produced by renewable energies, utilizing the infrastructure already put in place. This would make the transition rather smooth and make the investment into the infrastructure economically sound.

Compared to hydrogen, methane is a lot easier to handle, requiring less complicated modifications of engines, boilers, power plants and pipelines. Plus the energy density is higher as well.

It can also act as a seasonal storage, e.g. for excess energy produced by solar cells in summer to be used for heating in winter.

The disadvantage is Methane being a strong greenhouse gas, making it crucial to reduce leaking in the overall cycle from production to end use to an absolute minimum. With proper handling and a high quality infrastructure, this should be easily achieved.

energy storage, methanation, methane, synthetic natural gas

Energy storage



Status: in discussion

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Number: 000008

submitted: 31.05.2012