Hydrogenics and Enbridge to develop utility-scale energy storage

Hydrogenics Corp and Enbridge Inc. team up to develop utility-scale energy storage in North America, using Enbridge's existing network of pipelines to store excess renewable energy.

Excess hydrogen to be kept in existing natural gas pipelines

Operations coordinator Doug Rotzien works at the Enbridge Pipelines oil terminal facility in Hardisty, Alta., in this 2007 photo. Hydrogenics Corp. and Enbridge have announced a joint venture to develop utility-scale energy storage in North America. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

Hydrogenics Corp. and pipeline giant Enbridge Inc. have announced a joint venture to develop utility-scale energy storage in North America.

The agreement, which includes a $5-million equity investment in the hydrogen generation company by Enbridge, brings together Hydrogenics' expertise in water electrolysis with Enbridge's expertise in natural gas pipeline networks and renewable energy generation.

Under the program, hydrogen produced during periods of excess renewable generation will be injected into Enbridge's existing natural gas pipeline network, proportionally increasing the renewable energy content in natural gas pipelines for essentially the operating cost of the electrolyzer.

"Small quantities of hydrogen can be manageable in existing natural gas pipeline networks," the companies said in a joint release. "With the significant scale of the natural gas pipeline network, these same quantities of hydrogen have a very meaningful impact on electricity energy storage potential."

Joint-venture to start in Ontario

The collaboration between Hydrogenics and Enbridge will initially focus on the deployment of utility-scale energy storage in Ontario, with the opportunity to expand into Enbridge's operations elsewhere.

"This clean energy solution establishes a bridge between the electricity and natural gas networks to bring seasonal storage capabilities to electricity networks," Enbridge spokesman Chuck Szmurlo said in a release.

"This is another example of how Enbridge is investing in alternative energy technologies that complement our pipeline businesses while contributing to our growth in renewable and clean energy," said Szmurlo, vice-president of alternative and emerging technology.

Hydrogenics president and CEO Daryl Wilson said the two companies look forward to advancing the commercialization of hydrogen energy storage solutions that have gigawatt-hour potential for electricity storage.

"With distinct advantages over conventional energy storage methods, the hydrogen solution provides unrivalled energy storage capacity and application flexibility to meet the growing need for energy storage by North America's electricity grid operators."

Enbridge, with some 6,900 employees, operates the world's biggest crude oil and liquids transportation system with pipelines across North America and is Canada's largest natural gas distribution company with operations in Ontario, Quebec and New York state.

It also has a significant and growing involvement in natural gas gathering and midstream businesses, and an increasing involvement in power transmission and has interests in close to 1,000 megawatts of renewable and alternative energy generating capacity.

Hydrogenics is a developer and manufacturer of hydrogen generation and fuel cell products.