The methanation of CO₂ within the power-to-gas concept was investigated under fluctuating reaction conditions to gather detailed insight into the structural dynamics of the catalyst. A 10 wt % Ni/Al2O3 catalyst with uniform 3.7 nm metal particles and a dispersion of 21% suitable to investigate structural changes also in a surface-sensitive way was prepared and characterized in detail. Operando quick-scanning X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS/QEXAFS) studies were performed to analyze the influence of 30 s and 300 s H₂ interruptions during the methanation of CO₂ in the presence of O₂ impurities (technical CO₂). These conditions represent the fluctuating supply of H2 from renewable energies for the decentralized methanation. Short-term H₂ interruptions led to oxidation of the most reactive low-coordinated metallic Ni sites, which could not be re-reduced fully during the subsequent methanation cycle and accordingly caused deactivation. Detailed evaluation of the extended X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) spectra showed surface oxidation/reduction processes, whereas the core of the Ni particles remained reduced. The 300-s H₂ interruptions resulted in bulk oxidation already after the first cycle and a more pronounced deactivation. ... mehrThese results clearly show the importance and opportunities of investigating the structural dynamics of catalysts to identify their mechanism, especially in power-to-chemicals processes using renewable H₂.