A system to store wind energy in hydrogen and freshwater

More than the half of the world population lives on coasts. In many of these regions there is a deficit of electrical current and freshwater. Higher wind speeds are often available at the coast, so that wind turbines have a higher electrical current yield. But the unsteady wind energy is not storable by the electrical grid itself. So often current is not available when it is required or a surplus of wind power can not be fed into the power grids. Here, a conversion of wind current in 'storable' hydrogen and freshwater provides redress.

Gesamtsystem-1-Windenergiespeicherung-Vanselow-en.jpg System components from above. Foto: K. H. Vanselow, FTZ

Project description

It was intended, together with the P&T Technology AG from Hamburg, to realize a model of an overall concept for converting renewable energy into storable hydrogen and freshwater (GeWinner).
Location of such a system was the Research and Technology Centre (FTZ) Westcoast of University of Kiel in Buesum. This for 10 years already dealt with studies on renewable energy. Adequate infrastructure was available in laboratories, indoor and outdoor premises.

Gesamtsystem-2-Windenergiespeicherung-Vanselow-enFoto of compressor, gas cylinders (middle), electrolyseur (right) and hydrogen engine (left). © K. H. Vanselow, FTZ.

The project required a wind turbine of 500 to 600 KW. Wind speed was optimal around Buesum. The wind power should be processed in the different installed container components. The components are on the one hand a wind current driven electrolysis to produce hydrogen (10 Nm3/h). This hydrogen has a pressure of 15 bar after electrolysis. A compressor boosts the pressure to up to 200 bar to store the compressed hydrogen then in gas bottles. The conversion of the stored hydrogen in electrical current again was done by a hydrogen combustion engine (Nominal capacity 66 KW, 80 Nm3/h).

Gesamtsystem-3-Windenergiespeicherung-Vanselow-enContainer components at night. © K. H. Vanselow, FTZ.

On the other hand we can use the wind current to drive a seawater desalination unit (3 m3/h by reverse osmosis) to produce fresh water. The so generated fresh water is storable again. By this way, electrical current, hydrogen and fresh water can be produced and can be controlled emitted again. In the project the different components should be developed and optimized.

Gewinner-Scheme Schematic drawing of the executed construction, as well as shown on the given fotos. © K. H. Vanselow, FTZ

Further informations are available in the yearly reports of FTZ 2001 and 2002/2003.

Project period:

2000 to 2003


Wilhelm Schmidt, Klaus Heinrich Vanselow, Wolfgang Voigt