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Northern Gas Networks, the gas distributer for the North of England, has announced its collaboration with ITM Power, the energy storage and clean fuel company, on a study examining the potential deployment of large-scale power-to-gas energy storage.

Funding for the study was secured from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of its Energy Storage Feasibility Study Competition launched in January this year.

Power-to-gas energy storage is a scalable energy storage technology capable of absorbing power from the electricity grid at times when supply exceeds demand and when intermittent renewable generation causes network stability problems. In power-to-gas, electrical power is converted to chemical energy in the form of hydrogen which can be injected and stored in the gas network.

The gas network has the capacity to store energy indefinitely and power-to-gas has the potential to store MW to GW for durations that can extend from hours to many months.

The NGN/ITM feasibility study will focus on deployments capable of operating cost-effectively from 50MWh energy storage capacity upwards within the boundaries of the NGN gas distribution network.

ITM Power presented an electrolyser demonstration at NGN’s InTEGReL launch this September – InTEGReL (Integrated Transport Electricity Gas Research Laboratory is theUK’s first fully integrated energy systems research and demonstration site.

With part of the work taking place at NGN’s InTEGReL whole systems facility near Gateshead, the study will provide detailed technical, economic and site-specific information about large-scale power-to-gas energy storage which will enable a decision on a potential large-scale energy storage demonstration project.

Mark Horsley, CEO of Northern Gas Networks, added: “The whole systems approach and power-to-gas technology are incredibly exciting prospects for the UK’s future energy mix and we’re delighted to be a partner in this pioneering project, part of which will take place at InTEGReL, our whole systems facility near Gateshead.

“As renewable power generation increases, effective storage and transmission of surplus power will become ever more important. Instead of being lost, this surplus power has the potential to be turned into alternative green fuels such as hydrogen, and stored in the gas network for later use in transport, heat or generation.

“This study will provide unique insight into how we answer some of the energy challenges we’re facing, and how by bringing gas and electricity together we can ultimately drive down costs for customers, increase resilience and improve sustainability.”

Graham Cooley, CEO of ITM Power, said: “We are delighted to be working closely with Northern Gas Networks on this study to deploy large scale power-to-gas energy storage on their network.

“The principle of the gas grid being used as a renewable energy store is a compelling idea for the gas industry. Northern Gas Networks are leaders in the use of hydrogen in the UK gas network for energy storage and for renewable heat.”

NGN launched its InTEGReL project this September in collaboration with Northern Powergrid and Newcastle University, exploring a whole systems approach to energy by breaking down traditional barriers between gas, electricity and transport sectors, using their assets to deliver more secure, affordable low carbon energy.

The facility near Gateshead will allow researchers and industry to carry out tests and trials of coupled gas, electricity and heat systems at a meaningful scale for the first time, explore new technology and ultimately deliver security of supply and cost benefits for customers.

For more information on InTEGReL click here