Electrochaea GmbH, a leading European provider of renewable methane technology, announced today that it has established a Sacramento-based U.S. subsidiary, Electrochaea Corporation, to accelerate the commercial roll-out of its technology in North America. The company offers a climate-friendly solution to store renewable electricity and recycle CO2 in the form of renewable methane. This technology is a major advancement toward the critical goal of transitioning to a clean energy economy.
Renewable electricity sources such as solar and wind, which are naturally intermittent, are only optimized when mechanisms for electricity storage are present. As more solar sources are developed, an unexpected problem, the inability to use all of the electricity produced during the hours when the sun is available, has arisen reducing the enthusiasm for additional solar installations. Electrochaea’s technology can take that unneeded electricity and store it in the form of renewable methane. This methane, a substitute for fossil fuels, can be used when the sun is not shining for electricity generation.
Over the past six years, Electrochaea has successfully developed renewable methane from the lab to industrial-scale pilot plants in Denmark and Switzerland, feeding the national gas grids. In 2019 the company opened a third pilot plant at the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO, with support from SoCalGas. The company has several renewable methane projects under development in the USA as it moves forward with commercial roll-out in North America.
“This is a transformative time in the U.S. energy market. The critical needs for both new climate solutions and new areas of economic development are increasingly urgent, while new renewable energy solutions are gaining traction,” said Mich Hein, CEO of Electrochaea. “We’re optimistic about the growing potential for our renewable methane to promote use of renewable electricity, and we look forward to deepening our collaborations with U.S. partners to accelerate its commercialization.”
“Electrochaea has presented us with an innovative technology to investigate at an important time,” said Martin Keller, Laboratory Director at NREL. “We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with a partner who has experience and know-how in the field of biological methanation. We anticipate a huge potential for scale in the U.S. market as we seek to diversify the gas grid, which is the backbone of the U.S. energy storage network.”
The business development activities of the U.S. subsidiary will focus on development and execution of commercial opportunities and partnerships in the United States, Canada and Mexico. Electrochaea’s headquarters, with laboratories, engineering and business functions, will remain in Munich.
Electrochaea uses ancient microorganisms, called archaea, as a biocatalyst to convert hydrogen from renewable energy and carbon dioxide into grid-quality methane. The technology was developed by Prof. Laurens Mets at the University of Chicago. Mets was the first to discover the potential of the archaea’s metabolism and its impact for environmental applications. Compared to chemical methanation technologies, this biological process is extremely robust, efficient and reliable. The operation of the system is simple and cost-effective.
Founded in 2014, Electrochaea GmbH delivers an innovative, patented technology for producing high-quality renewable natural gas that can be stored and used on demand in the existing natural gas grid. The company has successfully operated industrial-scale pilot plants in the U.S., Switzerland and Denmark and plans to produce more than 15 billion cubic feet per year of renewable methane by 2025. Electrochaea’s technology was recently awarded the Swiss energy prize Watt d’Or and listed by FOCUS magazine as one of the most important technologies for climate and environment. Electrochaea is headquartered in Munich, Germany.