Published on July 17th, 2015 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Audi uses excess electrical grid power to make e-gas
In the German electrical energy mix, the share of renewable energies is growing rapidly – this share already reached 33 percent in the first half of 2015. However, regional expansion of wind and photovoltaic generation plants leads to increasingly larger load fluctuations – it is therefore important to have flexibly available consumers such as the Audi e-gas plant to buffer load peaks and thereby stabilize energy grids.
The Audi e‑gas plant in Werlte (Emsland) is able to respond to even slight load changes in the electricity grid to balance them out. This has resulted in the plant being accepted under the direction of grid operator Tennet TSO GmbH. The plant had to be able to draw 6 megawatts of power from the grid within five minutes as well as run prescribed load profiles. By passing this test, the Audi e‑gas plant has been qualified for participation in what is known as the electricity balancing market that is organized by grid operators. This means that the plant can now target higher annual operating times, which benefits the power grid and the amount of Audi e‑gas that is produced.
The power-to-gas plant in Werlte, which produces synthetic methane (Audi e‑gas) from water and CO2 utilizing wind-generated electricity, was launched in 2013. Audi customers can pay with the Audi e‑gas card at CNG fueling stations, and Audi then feeds equivalent quantities of e-gas into the German natural gas network. The Audi A3 Sportback g‑tron* with 81 kW (110 hp) of power is currently available from dealers. The new Audi A4 Avant g‑tron with 125 kW (170 hp) will follow next year.
In addition to e‑gas production in multiple plants, the brand with the four rings is also working on a broad front to develop other CO2‑neutral fuels – Audi e‑fuels. In early 2015, a pilot plant in Dresden that is operated by project partner sunfire GmbH started up production of the synthetic fuel Audi e‑diesel. Audi is also conducting joint research on the synthetic manufacture of Audi e‑gasoline with the French company Global Bioenergies S.A. In another project, Audi is working together with the USA-based company Joule Unlimited Technologies, Inc., which is using microorganisms to produce the synthetic fuels Audi e‑diesel and Audi e‑ethanol. In the field of e-gas, Audi is also working with a partner to develop a new production method in which the methanation process runs on biological pathways.