POB6.9 Energy storage and hydrogen energy
An increased share of renewable energy, particularly wind power and photovoltaics in an energy mix creates difficulties for the regional stability of the electricity grid on the supply side. Wind and solar generation both experience intermittency, a combination of regional meteorological uncontrolled variability and local unpredictability. A solution to this problem is energy storage. Accumulation of energy could be achieved by hydrogen generation and its possible further conversion into methane or methanol in Power-to-X technologies which are within the scope of research conducted at SUT. One of the benefits of this technology is the possibility of CO2 utilization generated by conventional fuel combustion. CO2 could be also captured from the process of biomass gasification as a “green” source of carbon. Basic research related to the process of hydrogen and CO2 synthesis into synthetic methane and methanol are currently being conducted under priority research areas. Research teams are making efforts to fund this scope of research through IPCEI calls in cooperation with companies and local authorities. Expertise of SUT researchers in technical risk assessment gives a possibility to analyze risks related to transport and storage of explosive gases such as methane and hydrogen and gases used as storage medium in CGES (Compressed Gases Energy Storage) technologies. One of the interesting activities which should help in the acquisition of research projects related to the priority research areas is establishment of the Fraunhofer Institute branch at SUT.
An idea which is currently being investigated is the possibility to use a post-mining infrastructure for energy storage. This concept is of crucial importance for coal regions in transition such as Upper Silesia where the decarbonisation process is taking place. Among many solutions, a concept of underground pumped storage hydropower where a lower reservoir is located in abandoned workings is being investigated. The other concept invented by SUT researchers considers a hybrid system where hydrogen (converted into synthethic methane) and compressed air is stored in an abandoned mine. This idea has been patented by SUT. Another patent application related to the concept of hybrid system where hydrogen and compressed CO2 are used as energy carriers is under processing. As stated by Inventors, this solution has a high application potential in urbanized regions where the need for industrial clusters integrating CO2 emitters with consumers of high energy needs is of utmost importance. This idea is of particular interest for the Upper Silesia region where the number of post-mining areas abandoned underground workings and shafts, will be increased dramatically in the next few years. This infrastructure could be converted into underground storage of hydrogen, methane, carbon dioxide and air. Actions related to this scope of priority research are within the research interest of employees of the Faculty of Energy and Environmental Engineering and the Faculty of Mining, Safety Engineering and Industrial Automation. The concept of a hybrid system of heat and compressed air storage intended particularly for post-mining shafts is the subject of EPO and Polish Patent Office application. The employees of the design office of Energoprojekt Katowice SA joined the process of designing and developing the system. Teams working in the field of energy storage and hydrogen energy are actively participating in the submission of project proposals to the H2020 research fund and Polish-Norwegian research Fund. Other research fields are related to the distributed energy storage in prosumer systems based on electrochemical batteries working in hybrid systems using high voltage batteries.