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17 April, 2019

Incorporating More Hydrogen in a Technically Safe System

DVGW Rules for a Climate-friendly Energy Infrastructure
Wasserstoffmoleküle; ©
News - 17.04.2019

The Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches (DVGW, German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water) gave the start signal for the further development of a comprehensive package of technical rules relating to the generation, injection, admixture, transmission, distribution and storage of hydrogen in the natural-gas infrastructure, with the objective being to upgrade the existing gas infrastructure to accommodate a gradually increasing percentage of hydrogen in a climate-friendly energy system. Hydrogen has the great advantage of not producing CO2 emissions when used for energy-related purposes. What is more, it can be generated from renewable sources of energy and can be used in multiple ways, both by the industry, as well as on the heat market and for mobility services. “The further development of the set of rules creates an important basis for gas suppliers in the field, a prerequisite for the technically safe integration of hydrogen, a climate-friendly energy carrier, into the existing pipeline system”, said Prof Gerald Linke, Chairman of the DVGW Managing Committee when announcing the new step.

The plan for the future set of rules is to inject about 20 percent per volume of hydrogen, as a first target. The existing DVGW Set of Rules permits admixing up to about 10 percent to the existing gas grid wherever specific applications pose no restrictions. The target is to incorporate as binding without any restrictions the amount of ten percent in the set of rules by 2030. The actual target however is much higher: “20 percent seem to be technically feasible as far as we know today. Some parts of the grid may be capable of accommodating even more. But we always have to keep an eye on end uses”, Gerald Linke continued. “Apart from that, we believe that, in sum total, the future system will be able to transmit more than 50 percent of green gases such as, for instance, biomethane.”

An increasing share of hydrogen requires modifying both the grid and the associated appliances and equipment. The specific properties of hydrogen call for different types of materials for e. g. compressors, boilers or vehicle fuel tanks if more hydrogen is added. If hydrogen is transformed into synthetic methane in the next process step, it may even be added in unlimited quantities without having to modify appliances and equipment. “Yet it definitely does make sense to open up the natural gas infrastructure and enable it to accommodate hydrogen in a first step. This helps prevent further transformation losses due to methanation and increases efficiencies”, confirmed Linke.

The DVGW has for several years already been actively working on the existing set of rules on gas infrastructure and gas applications with the focus on covering a higher percentage of hydrogen admixtures. The intention is in the long run to complement the existing set of rules in cooperation with the DVGW partner DWV (Deutscher Wasserstoff- und Brennstoffzellen-Verband, German Hydrogen and Fuel-Cell Association) by a new one supposed to cover 100 percent of hydrogen so as to provide a viable system of technical rules that is applicable to the entire power-to-gas process chain. The future research findings of the DVGW and its associated institutes will serve as a basis to achieve this goal.

Joining forces with policy makers, the DVGW continues to advance the gas infrastructure in the interests of both the energy turnaround and climate protection. After all, Germany boasts approximately 530,000 kilometres of gas pipelines, which together with the associated gas storage systems can act as a buffer to compensate fluctuations in the generation of power from renewable sources. As hydrogen produced by power-to-gas can be injected directly into the gas grid after the system has been appropriately adapted, and can be used by the different sectors according to need, it forms a crucial pillar of the future “two-energy-carrier scenario”.

The DVGW looks back on decade-long experience that makes the Association proficient in research and development; what is more, its expert knowledge enables it to create a safe, reliable and modern infrastructure based on rules. Being a recognised regulator, the DVGW ascertains the need for new standards and continually updates and extends the existing set of rules. Leading technical experts contribute with their expert knowledge and practical experience to this transparent process. All in all, this ensures a dynamic set of technical rules that guarantees a state-of-the-art gas supply system.

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Sabine Wächter
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