PRESS RELEASE: Towards a Smart Puglia thanks to the INGRID project

Description: Bari hosted the final international conference of the INGRID research project, where the first results of the experimentation underway in Troia (FG) have been presented. The project investigated the potential of the hydrogen-based technologies in the balance of the electricity grid.

Making Puglia the first smart region of the world, where energy coming from renewable sources exceeds 80%, the electricity networks are integrated with the gas distribution infrastructure and hydrogen and the final users are also energy prosumers, able to re-enter it in the grid. This is not a future too far, but a close perspective close in time and partially already real. This is the picture arised from the international final conference of the INGRID project held in Bari. The research project has been considered strategic by the European Commission and financed within the 7th Framework Programme. INGRID offers a technological solution to the problem of discontinuity and overproduction peaks of renewable energies: the storage through magnesium disks of the renewable energy surplus in solid state hydrogen.

The results of the project have been illustrated in the final conference, thanks to the participation of 8 partners from 4 Countries: Engineering Ingegneria Informatica (coordinator), ARTI Puglia, e-distribuzione, RSE – Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico and Studio Tecnico BFP (Italy); McPhy Energy (France); Hydrogenics (Belgium) and Tecnalia (Spain).

In order to demonstrate the feasibility of the INGRID model, a pilot plant has been built in Troia (near Foggia, in the nothern part of Puglia, Italy), an area characterized by a large number of wind and photovoltaic plants: energy coming from renewable sources cannot be used directly on-site or transported, due to both production peaks and the current insufficient transport capacity of the electricity grid.

The opportunities offered by the energy storage to achieve a smarter electricity grid and a more efficient energy distribution system have been fully analyzed by the project partners and the experts taking part to the event.

"In a few years, renewables have become the first energy source, surpassing fossils - claimed Massimo Bertoncini, Director of Smart Energy R&I projects, Engineering-Ingegneria Informatica Spa, and INGRID project coordinator. This change in the technological paradigm, not expected or not planned in these proportions, requires the search for solutions to the typical discontinuity of the production of renewable energy sources, which can be traced in the integration of energy systems: within the Ingrid project we experienced the possible integration between the networks of electricity, gas and hydrogen".

INGRID project is demonstrating how and to what extent the combination of solid-state high-density hydrogen energy storage and advanced ict technologies for real time monitoring and control of smart distgribution grids will be able to balance highly variable power supply and demand, in a scenario of large penetration of intermittent distributed renewable energy sources.

Despite the difficulties, the INGRID project can be considered successful, thanks to the contribution and the efforts of all the partners involved in the project. The technologies employed (Hydrogenics electrolyser and fuel cell, McPhy’s patented magnesium discs, Engineering Energy Management Stystem), as well as the whole INGRID project, are really innovative. Thanks to the INGRID project, the combination of the most advanced ICT technologies for real-time monitoring of smart distribution networks and storage of solid hydrogen solutions will enable the integration of renewable sources in the balance of energy supply and demand, with benefits from both environmental and economic point of view.

Puglia decided to accept the challenge offered by the INGRID project, thus proving to be an avant-garde region on technology development and innovation. The INGRID project represents a meaningful step towards the Smart Puglia and the pilot plant will contribute to consolidate the image of the region as a leader in energy production from renewable sources and constantly committed to the protection of the environment and its territory.

Renewable energies in Puglia, in Italy and in the world

In 2014, in Puglia renewables covered about half of the regional electricity consumption. Ten years ego renewables were almost non-existent, being Puglia the only Italian region without hydropower. From 2000 to 2014, the production of renewable in Puglia has increased by 29 times compared to the Italian doubling.

Puglia is the first Italian region for export of electricity: about half of its energy production is exported (compared to a gross production of electricity equal to 38,102 GWh for 2014, the fuel consumption is only amounted to 17,050 GWh). In other words: Puglia has become a leading region in Italy for the production of electricity from solar and wind. This situation is unique nationwide and has a major impact on regional power grids.

In 2015, worldwide, the installed capacity from RES (renewable energy sources) has exceeded 600 GW, 6 times the value predicted by the IEA (International Energy Agency) in 2000. In 2016, in Italy, photovoltaic covered about 8% of the national energy demand. In Puglia, the installed capacity of photovoltaic has reached 2,490 MW, 16 times the target set by the Regional Energy Plan (150 MW for 2016).

INGRID Project

Energy storage is becoming a crucial issue to balance and integrate larger shares of renewable energy and improve the grid reliability and efficiency. Hydrogen storage represents a viable option to increase the carbon-neutral energy supply due to its high energy density and reversibility.

The INGRID R&D European project aims at demonstrateing how and to what exent the most advanced ITCs for real time monitoring of smart distribution networks and the storage of solid hydrogen solutions,will enable the integration of renewable sources in the balance of energy supply and demand.

The project is developed by a consortium composed by eight partners from four countries (Italy, France, Belgium and Spain): Engineering Ingegneria Informatica (Lead Partner); McPhy Energy; Hydrogenics; Tecnalia; RSE – Ricerca sul Sistema Energetico; E-Distribuzione; ARTI – Apulia Regional Agency for Technology and Innovation; Studio tecnico BFP. Within the INGRID project, 39MWh demonstrator pilot plant of solid hydrogen storage has been built in Troia, near Foggia The demonstrator consists of a 1.2MW water electrolyzer, a solid hydrogen storage system, a fuel cell and ICT systems for real time monitoring and control. Using solar and wind energy, hydrogen produced by electrolysis in gas form is absorbed by magnesium discs, which form stable compounds with hydrogen called magnesium hydride and enable it to be kept in solid form. Therefore, the hydrogen can be transported safely and made available to industrial users or be extracted from the magnesium discs and used as zero emission fuel to support electric mobility. Moreover, through the fuel cell, the hydrogen stored in magnesium discs can be also re-converted into electricity and re-directed into the grid when needed.

INGRID - High-capacity hydrogen-based green-energy storage solutions for grid balancing
Work partially supported by European Community under the ENERGY programme of the 7th FP for RTD - project INGRID, contract 296012. The Author is solely responsible for the content of this paper. It does not represent the opinion of the European Community, and the European Community is not responsible for any use that might be made of data appearing therein.

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