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Methanol as energy source

„greenfuel“ is a Lighthouse Project of the Green Capital

The “greenfuel” project continues to take on concrete form: In this project, staff from innogy’s Research & Development unit are demonstrating the entire value chain of a methanol-based renewable liquid fuel for the first time. This is a promising option to meet the long-term CO2 reduction targets in long-distance traffic (with cars, aircraft, ships, trucks), which is very difficult to electrify, and offers other highly interesting applications, for example when it comes to distributed energy solutions. Watch the following animation.

This value chain is to be realised on a small scale, so to speak, as part of Essen’s role as European Green Capital 2017. The green methanol is produced directly at Lake Baldeney using an innovative so-called electrobiocatalytic process. It requires only CO2 filtered from the air and renewable electricity produced in innogy’s neighbouring hydroelectric plant. The compact system is to be integrated into a visitors’ pavilion to demonstrate the process to the public by some hands-on experience.

Apart from its high energy storage density, the big advantage of methanol is the relative ease of handling which is similar to petrol or diesel so that the existing infrastructure can remain in use with only slight adjustments.

It is planned to test the methanol in two different modes of transport. Starting in the summer, a methanol-powered passenger vessel, MS innogy, is to cruise on Lake Baldeney. To this end, Essen’s City Council resolved in December 2016 to purchase and convert the MS Ratzeburg (see picture). It is to be equipped with a fuel cell producing electricity from methanol fed into a battery-buffered electric motor.

What is more, two Nissan e-NV200 electric cars (see picture) are being equipped with a methanol fuel cell as range extender in Denmark. The project is designed not only to explore the application in long-distance traffic starting in the summer, but also to hook this up to a house. The main attraction is that by this the car becomes part of the home’s energy supply. In the event that photovoltaics and battery storage do not provide enough power to the house, the car can simply take over the supply.

We hope that by realising the entire value chain of methanol in Essen we are not only making an important contribution to the 2017 Green Capital, but will also generate a lot of know-how to build up a promising new business model for innogy

Jens Kanacher, Head of CoC Energy Systems and Storage.