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Electrochaea and European Innovation Council to boost biological methanation

Germany-headed power-to-methane (PtM) technology provider Electrochaea GmbH has announced the official start of project work on a pioneering first standardized 10 MWe power-to-gas (PtG) biological methanation plant. The preferred location for the first of the 10 MWe biological methanation plants is in Denmark, with other sites within Europe on the shortlist.

Founded in 2014 Electrochaea has developed an innovative, patented power-to-gas (PtG) technology for the production of high-quality, renewable natural gas (RNG) methane that can be stored and used on-demand via the existing gas grid. Industrial-scale pilot plants have already been operated in the United States, Switzerland, and Denmark. The company plans to enable the production of more than 15 billion cubic feet per year of renewable methane by 2025 (photo courtesy Electrochaea).

According to Electrochaea, the plant will be built as part of the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Program. Established under the EU Horizon Europe programme, the EIC has a budget of EUR 10.1 billion to support game-changing innovations throughout the lifecycle from early-stage research to proof of concept, technology transfer, and the financing and scale-up of start-ups and SMEs.

A unique feature of the EIC is that it provides funding for individual companies through both grants and investments. The investments currently take the form of direct equity or quasi-equity investments and are managed by the European Innovation Council Fund.

First commercial Electrochaea project

In August 2020, Electrochaea was selected as one of 64 pioneering companies, from more than 2 000 international applicants, to receive a grant funding of EUR 2.485 million and an equity investment of EUR 14.975 million for the realization of the first commercial project.

The standard plant design enables the realization of the first of many commercial projects.

The biological methanation technology developed and patented by Electrochaea makes it possible to store electricity from renewable sources in the form of e-methane, which replaces fossil natural gas in the existing natural gas infrastructure where it can be transported and used for transportation, electricity generation, and industrial processes.

Electrochaea is a technology leader for biological methanation and says that it is “the only company in the world” that has validated a biological methanation technology by successfully operating industrial prototypes.

The Kraftanlagen Group, a unit of the French construction firm Bouygues Construction, is responsible for the concept, basic, and detailed engineering phases of the archetype 10 MWe biomethanation plant design.

We are delighted to be paving the way to produce green fuel on a larger scale in this project. As part of our climate strategy, Kraftanlagen and Bouygues Construction are promoting a significant improvement in the carbon footprint through our own initiatives and sustainable projects. Biological methanation technology is an important solution in this regard, said Florian Stöger, Head of Engineering of the Industry Business Unit at Kraftanlagen.

Potential for biological carbon capture and utilization

Especially for companies with high process-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, such as wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), lime and cement production, or steel and glass manufacturing, Electrochaea’s technology offers a proven and cost-effective way to significantly reduce the CO2 footprint by feeding the released CO2 to the methanation process – biological carbon capture and utilization (CCU).

Our technology solution can be licensed and implemented today. Planning and implementation times, including commissioning, are significantly reduced by this step and the modular design minimizes the footprint considerably. Thus, this archetype product is directly tailored to a broad, international customer portfolio. Through the EIC’s Accelerator Program, we can significantly increase the pace at which we offer standardized and scalable engineering packages tailored to individual industries and further extend our technological lead, said Harald Beschid, COO at Electrochaea.

Grid balancing and decarbonization

The use of Electrochaea’s technology also has major advantages from the viewpoint of national and municipal economies. For example, by feeding renewable e-methane into the gas grid, the existing natural gas infrastructure can be gradually decarbonized and converted into a large-scale storage facility for intermittent wind and solar energy.

Infrastructure investments would thus also be secured in the long term. At the same time, less fossil natural gas would need to be purchased and imported. It is a win-win situation for cities, municipalities, and communities that want to drive the expansion of renewable energy and reduce CO2 emissions while maintaining a flexible and reliable energy supply.

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