Meth(an)Quest lead project launched: Federal Government to provide funding to industry and science for the use of gas from renewable energy sources in transport and energy supply

Posted on September 14, 2018

In the new Meth(an)Quest lead project, which is being funded by the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), technologies are to be developed that will support Germany’s energy transition using methane-based fuels from renewables.

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  •   27 partners from research, industry and the energy sector are to develop solutions for the use of methane-based fuels in transport and energy supply
  • Six joint projects – ranging from methane recovery, new engine concepts for ships, cogeneration plants and cars, to sector coupling using microgrid solutions for both inland and seaports, in addition to a systems analysis assessment
  • The aim – to develop environmentally friendly, affordable and practicable approaches for a successful energy transition

Friedrichshafen, 14 September 2018 – In the new Meth(an)Quest lead project, which is being funded by the German Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi), technologies are to be developed that will support Germany’s energy transition using methane-based fuels from renewables. The focus will also be on sector coupling, i.e. connecting up the energy and transport sectors. A total of 27 scientific, industrial and business partners are to collaborate on research and development work over a period of three years in six joint projects. The go-ahead was given by the Federal Government’s coordinator for the maritime industry, Norbert Brackmann, at the kick-off meeting held on 14 September in Friedrichshafen. Responsibility for the joint lead project coordination has been assigned to Rolls-Royce Power Systems and the DVGW Research Centre at Engler-Bunte-Institute (EBI) of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT).

In the Meth(an)Quest lead project, technologies are to be developed and analysed that will enable methane-based fuels from renewables to be used in mobile and stationary applications and subsequently launched on the market. While the use of gas is widespread, particularly for heating purposes, its potential for passenger, freight and maritime transport has hardly been developed to date. Its use in cogeneration plants to provide a flexible means of generating heat and power has also been stagnating for many years, in spite of the fact that cogeneration plants in power-operated mode are seen as a key element of the energy transition.

Taking the Port of Karlsruhe as a case study, the interfaces and synergies of sector coupling will be examined and simulated. Specifically, the purpose of the study is to determine how electricity, gas and heat can be produced locally as required and supplied to the end users. These will include the local port infrastructure, in addition to the city’s bus fleet and barges. Storage possibilities will also be considered that would enable the local grid to be operated independently.  
As Norbert Brackmann, the Federal Government’s coordinator for the maritime industry, explained: “For a successful energy transition, it is absolutely essential that the energy and transport sectors are coupled and looked at as a whole. At the same time, methane-based fuels produced using electric power that is generated from renewable energy sources (”power-to-gas“) will be an important factor. They will enable greenhouse gas emissions to be significantly reduced, which will help is to achieve our climate protection goals. The further development of technologies that will make possible the energy-efficient use of these fuels is an integral part of the Meth(an)Quest lead project.“

The project has a total value of 32 million euros, with financing provided by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) amounting to a total of 19 million euros. Andreas Schell, CEO of Rolls-Royce Power Systems, and Dr. Frank Graf, Director, Gas Technology at the DVGW Research Centre at Engler-Bunte-Institute of Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), accepted the official grant approval on behalf of the 27 partners from research and industry. Dr. Frank Graf regards the cross-sectoral research approach as significant: “Through these six joint projects we will achieve an innovation boost in numerous areas, from the development of innovative ways of obtaining gas from renewables to new kinds of engine concepts for cars, stationary applications and ship propulsion systems, in addition to the design of microgrids for inland and seaports.“

Andreas Schell welcomes the commitment of all project participants as making an important contribution to Germany‘s energy transition: “As a solutions provider, we have been pushing ahead with the use of alternative fuels, the development of new mtu gas engines and the further electrification of both propulsion systems and energy systems with our Green and High-Tech initiative for a long time. We have been successful in doing this only as a result of our close collaboration with strong partners, such as those involved in this project. We are therefore extremely delighted that we will now be able to increase our expertise in the two joint projects MethPower and MethMare in a leading capacity, in addition to making a contribution in the joint project MethGrid and together with all the project partners.“


Buzzword “power-to-gas“

In a so-called power-to-gas process that uses electric power from renewable energy sources, environmentally friendly gas can be generated that can be stored easily for later use as and when required. Methane from power-to-gas processes offers numerous benefits compared with other power-to-X options – the production processes are less complex and deliver significantly higher levels of efficiency, which has a positive impact on production costs. A further benefit is the trouble-free, successive replacement of fossil-based natural gas by compressed or liquid methane from renewable energy sources (renewable methane). This means that the existing gas networks and gas applications can still be used without the need for expensive and time-consuming modifications.
Firstly, gas-based technologies are well developed and are used in millions of applications. Secondly, there is an extensive and high-capacity infrastructure of existing natural gas networks and storage facilities available, with which fluctuations in the supply of renewable energies can be compensated for, large amounts of energy stored and energy consumption peaks loads absorbed. Vehicles powered with gases from renewables, as a supplement to e-mobility, can make a major contribution to the energy transition.
Silke Rockenstein Spokeswoman Trade Media
+49 7541 90 7740