Renewable methane from wind and sun in the tank: The Stuttgart system supplier and Ingolstadt automobile company signed a contract in October 2011 for planning, delivery, installation and commissioning of an e-gas facility. Further development of the new technology uses not only sustainable mobility.
In the future automobiles using gas can roll on the streets completely climate neutral. For this purpose a new technology from SolarFuel GmbH converts green electricity surpluses into renewable methane. Now the manufacture of sustainable fuel will be used for the first time globally, even on a large scale. On October 28, 2011 AUDI AG ordered the construction of a turnkey pilot facility on an industrial scale from the Stuttgart company. The power input is around six megawatts. The order volume is in the tens of millions of euros. This large facility is an important step to commercialisation of the new technology. The planning, delivery, installation and commissioning at the Werlte site should be completed by May 2013. The facility should produce 1.4 million cubic metres of "e-gas" per year in natural gas standard quality. With it the project partners are laying an important foundation for the expansion of renewable energy and for climate-friendly mobility.
The basics of the process originated at the Centre for Solar Energy and Hydrogen Research (ZSW) and the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Power and Energy System Technology (IWES). Funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), the Institute and SolarFuel continue to develop the still young technology: Summer 2011 saw the start of construction of a test facility with 250 kilowatt input power at ZSW in Stuttgart. This should be completed the middle of 2012. Knowledge gained here also flows into the much larger Audi facility at the Werlte location of the power company EWE AG.
In line with the commissioning of the e-gas facility in Werlte, Audi is bringing the A3 TCNG on the market in 2013, which can also drive long distances climate neutral. The automobile tanks renewable methane as fuel, called "e-gas" by Audi. An average of 3,900 cubic metres of e-gas is produced in Werlte per day. This quantity is sufficient for a fleet of 1,500 A3 TCNG with an annual mileage of 15,000 kilometres each. Audi is the first manufacturer worldwide using this technology for climate-friendly mobility.
Since the introduction of a demonstration facility with 25 kilowatt power in 2009, the research institutes and SolarFuel have further developed the technology with significant advances. The entire German natural gas network with large storage capacities is available for the methane retrieved from the green electricity. For this reason, the gas not only improves the climate balance with natural gas automobiles. Efficient gas power stations with combined heat and power technology (CHP) and decentralised cogeneration units can reconvert the renewable methane and thus have ensured power ready; industrial companies are able to generate process heat with the technology. They will all profit from the advances with the 6 megawatt facility and contribute to solving the problem of storage of surplus wind and solar power.