Energy Conversion and Storage: The Value of Reversible Power-to-Gas Systems

Gunther Glenk and Stefan Reichelstein,

May 2021

Power-to-Gas technology has recently experienced lower acquisition costs and lower conversion efficiency losses. At the same time, wholesale power markets have seen increasing volatility with significant amounts of surplus electricity at select hours of the year. Here we examine the economic potential of reversible Power-to-Gas systems that can convert electricity to hydrogen or operate in the reverse direction to deliver electricity during times of high power prices. Our model framework is applied to the current market environment in both Germany and Texas. We find that the reversibility feature of solid oxide fuel cells makes such systems already competitive at current hydrogen prices, provided the fluctuations in electricity prices are as pronounced as currently observed in Texas. We project that the flexibility inherent in reversible fuel cells would leave investments in such systems economically viable in the future even at substantially lower hydrogen prices, provided recent technological improvements continue over the coming decade.