While renewable energy sources are providing large quantities of clean power and reducing carbon emissions, they face limitations for the electricity grid when wind and solar aren’t readily available.
So far, policymakers have looked to battery technologies are a storate solution.
A new report from the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) says greater attention should be given to hydrogen to provide the optimum storage solution.
It offers multiple benefits, not least its capacity to store renewable power. Electrolysis can convert power into gas, which can then be stored for use at a later date, or in heating; this can help create a cleaner and more efficient electricity system, according to the researchers.
Although power-to-gas technology is not new it is largely unused, partly due to cost constraints.
Dr Jenifer Baxter, the report’s lead author and head of engineering at the professional body, commented: “Government and industry need to step up efforts to provide funding programmes and demonstration sites to encourage the greater use of hydrogen as energy storage.”
IMechE recommends targeting an ambitious 20% hydrogen use in the gas network by 2023. The first step towards this goal is to bring together the gas, nuclear and renewable sectors at an industrial forum.
“We need to move away from our wasteful culture to a more sustainable and circular economy. Power-to-gas and hydrogen technology could and should play a major role in building this future,” she added.