VI – Power to Gas and Heat

Competence Center „Virtual Institute - Power to Gas and Heat"


Ministry for Economic Affairs, Innovation, Digitalisation and Energy of North Rhine-Westphalia


Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft zur Förderung der angewandten Forschung e.V.

Gas-und Wärme-Institut Essen e.V.

Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Lehrstuhl für Fluidverfahrenstechnik

Wuppertal Institut für Klima, Umwelt, Energie gGmbH

Zentrum für BrennstoffzellenTechnik GmbH


November 2018 until March 2022

The future energy supply system must be designed to be more flexible. Because due to the energy transition and the expansion of renewable energies, the temporal and local supply of electricity will not always match demand in the medium term. So what can optimal energy storage and flexibility options look like in an integrated electricity, gas and heat system?

The project Competence Center “Virtual Institute – Power to Gas and Heat” is a follow-up project of the “Virtual Institute – Electricity to Gas and Heat”. The Competence Center is divided into two subprojects: The techno-, socio-economic and ecological system analysis and the experimental research infrastructure. They comprise both the construction of demonstration plants and the handling of systemic questions:

Techno-, socio-economic and ecological system analysis

  • System modeling for the identification of innovative and sustainable applications in the NRW lead market “Energy and Environmental Economy”
  • Life cycle assessment and criticality analysis of individual technologies and technology paths
  • Assessment of the use and impact of alternative fuels for the development of future regional infrastructure

Experimental research infrastructure

  • “Demonstration of flexibility options”: Characterization and modeling of the demonstration plant, optimization approaches to increase flexibility.
  • “Power-to-heat in the future energy system”: Extension of the demonstration plant by the flexibility option power-to-heat including analyses on the integrability into the North Rhine-Westphalian energy system.
  • “Demonstration of flexibility options”: Upscaling of an overall power-to-gas system to a scale relevant to the energy industry
  • “Smart Heating”: Power-to-heat systems in residential buildings
  • “Power2C4”: Development of a Power2X process for the production of the gas butadiene

In the work package “System modeling to identify innovative and sustainable applications”, the EWI and its partners are looking at individual flexibilization options in the areas of power-to-gas, power-to-heat, power-to-fuel (PtX), and demand-side management by industry and sector. Here, the institute further develops the techno-economic mapping of the various technology options in the cross-sectoral model landscape.

This will provide the basis for a detailed system analysis of the flexibility options through which the competitive situation in the market can be examined. In this context, investment strategies in the industry, private households, trade, commerce and services, and the competitiveness of individual innovative technologies in the overall system are also considered.

The spatial dimension concerning the choice of location of technologies when considering the expansion of renewable energies and the necessary power grid or gas grid availability will be investigated. This analysis will be performed within various scenarios, taking into account the region-specific advantages of the federal state of NRW. In addition, relevant use cases in NRW will be identified. Furthermore, a roadmap for a sustainable transformation of the industrial sector in NRW will be developed, taking PtX technologies into account.

EWI’s role in the competence center

The EWI investigates the electricity market’s flexibilization options, sector coupling, and alternative fuels. The goal is to provide critical insights for a sustainable, innovative design of the electricity, heat, and transport transition from a superordinate perspective. For this purpose, the EWI energy market model DIMENSION and the EWI gas grid model TIGER will be extended:

  • Mapping all energy consumption sectors (Europe-wide) with model endogenous production and demand for PtX fuels in EWI’s model DIMENSION
  • Detailed mapping and integration of flexibility options competing with PtX, including demand-side management (DSM), power-to-heat, electromobility, and storage in EWI’s model DIMENSION
  • Extension of the DIMENSION-DSM module to take into account additional sectors (trade, industrial, services, households) and endogenous expansion (incl. investment costs)
  • Modeling of long-term cross-sector interdependencies in the overall system in EWI’s model DIMENSION
  • Further development of the EWI gas grid model TIGER by integrating hydrogen and power-to-gas feed-in and improved mapping of the gas grid and regional gas demand
  • Linking PtX generation and natural gas supply, demand, and trade
  • Coupling of EWI’s models DIMENSION and TIGER via PtX and natural gas quantities, PtX capacities, and the natural gas price determined using the TIGER model
  • Iterative simulation of the electricity and gas network models
  • Analysis of the economically optimal allocation of PtX plants
  • Optimal location of PtX plants from electricity grid perspective vs. gas grid perspective

Results from the primary project