H-Flex: hydrogen and flexibility in the electricity grid

8 June 2020

What can we do to limit the load on the electricity grid and make sustainably generated electricity affordable for users? That is the central question in the Demonstration Energy and Climate Innovation (DEI+) programme, for which Hysolar and KWR/TU Delft have jointly received a national government grant. In the years ahead, we will be further developing and demonstrating innovative solutions in Nieuwegein within this programme. H-Flex: demonstrating innovative solutions

Challenges for the electricity grid

Our electricity grids are bearing increasingly heavy loads. This is a consequence of the growing demand for electric cars and heat pumps, among others. A second important reason is the increased delivery of green power from solar panels and wind turbines. Because it depends on the weather, this supply of power varies greatly. All of this means that grid managers face a steadily mounting challenge of balancing supply and demand, and of preserving the stability of the power system. There are already even cases where local grids cannot handle the supply, for instance, of solar electricity. The establishment of new solar and wind parks is also under pressure because of a shortfall of transport capacity. As a result, there is a big and growing need to enhance the flexibility of the system. Affordability also of course remains an important factor.

Gebieden met schaarste voor teruglevering op het energienet (bron: Enexis)

Grid congestion indication. Source: Enexis

H-Flex: Demonstrating innovative solutions in Nieuwegein

In Nieuwegein Hysolar is preparing for the production of green hydrogen. This will involve the use of an electrolyser which will use electricity generated locally by solar panels, and in the future possibly by wind turbines as well. Electric energy will be stored in the form of hydrogen.

This is the starting point for the H-Flex research project. The Nieuwegein location actually offers an excellent base to test promising optimisations. KWR researcher Els van der Roest lists these with ease: ‘We test large-scale battery systems so that the electrolyser can operate on solar energy at night as well; we develop a system to make good use of the residual heat that’s generated; and we research how we can have the system operate on direct rather than alternating current. We’ll soon make use of this knowledge to improve our software, with the ultimate goal of making the electricity grid more stable.’ Ron Bol, a green hydrogen specialist at Hysolar, adds that ‘ultimately, not only will the grid be more stable, but use will be made of electricity which would otherwise have remained unused.’

The objective of the H-Flex project is to develop solutions that can be implemented elsewhere in the country as well. Green hydrogen is after all a clean energy source with numerous applications. Hysolar is therefore collaborating with local energy initiatives. In the Province of North Holland we are researching the replacement of natural gas in a historic city centre, and in Overijssel we are looking at the use of green hydrogen for an electric-powered inland vessel.

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