Europe launches grid-connected renewable energy storage project

July 24, 2012 // By Anne-Françoise PELE
A consortium of seven European partners has been formed to build a solid state hydrogen storage facility that will balance power supply and demand of renewable energy installed in the Puglia region of Italy.

Coordinated by Engineering Ingegneria Informatica, Italian ICT provider, the Ingrid project gathers regional authority ARTI, Italian electricity distributor Enel Distribuzione, electrolyser manufacturer Hydrogenics, French hydrogen storage specialist McPhy Energy; and two research institutions, RSE in Italy and TECNALIA in Spain.

The Ingrid project aims to combine solid-state high-density hydrogen storage systems and electrolysis with advanced ICT technologies for smart distribution grids monitoring and control in a scenario of high penetration of renewable energy sources so as to balance power supply and demand, partners said.

Partners said they expect to design, build, deploy and operate a 39 MWh energy storage facility in the Italian region of Puglia using McPhy's hydrogen-based solid state storage and Hydrogenics' electrolysis technology and fuel cell power systems.

The Puglia region has an installed base of over 3,500 MW of solar, wind and biomass energy systems. The solid state hydrogen energy storage installation is claimed to be able to safely store more than 1 ton of hydrogen and to include a fast responding 1.2 MW hydrogen generator. The installation is expected to provide effective and smart balancing support for the local grid managed by Enel Distribuzione. Various potential value streams for the generated carbon-neutral hydrogen will be investigated, the consortium said.

The Ingrid R&D and demonstration project has an overall budget of 23.9 million euros ($29 million). It is funded with a contribution of 13.8 million euros ($16.7 million) by the European Union.