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Uniper Proceeding with Pilot Hydrogen Storage Project in Germany

hydrogen pilot storage project
Pilot hydrogen storage project benefits from its location close to Wilhelmshaven and the offshore wind farms in the North Sea (Wilhellmshaven file photo)

Published Jul 25, 2022 7:57 PM by The Maritime Executive

Uniper announced plans to move forward with a first-of-its-kind pilot project In Germany to explore the storage of hydrogen on a large scale. The project will be located near the North Sea and the port of Wilhelmshaven where Germany is developing its first LNG terminal which is also planned to become a hub for future fuels. According to the company, the project aims to provide information across the entire value chain on how the gas can be stored and how equipment and materials react to hydrogen

Uniper Energy Storage will test the construction and operation of a new salt cavern specifically built for hydrogen storage on a large scale and in a real-world environment. It will be located at the natural gas storage facility in Krummhoern, Northern Germany, which has not been used commercially since 2017. Commissioning of the pilot plant with a storage volume of up to 250,000 cubic meters of hydrogen is planned by 2024.

“Hydrogen will be a central element for the success of the energy transition,” says Olaf Lies, Lower Saxony's Environment Minister. We need it to become independent of fossil fuels and to decarbonize our energy sector and industry. The advantage of hydrogen is that it can be stored. In order for it to develop this advantage, we need storage facilities, including caverns. I'm pleased that Uniper wants to use cavern storage for hydrogen here in Lower Saxony.”

According to the company, storing electricity converted to hydrogen is important for balancing supply and demand fluctuations in the future. But existing storage facilities are designed for natural gas and would need to be converted to use hydrogen.

For this purpose, a new pilot cavern will be sol-technically constructed using an existing well at the Krummhoern site. During the trial operation, equipment and materials will be examined for hydrogen compatibility, and experience will be gained in the storage of exclusively green hydrogen in a salt cavern and its delivery and further use.

Uniper will invest around €10 million in the green future project with a storage volume of up to 250,000 cubic meters of hydrogen. As part of the project, Minister Olaf Lies today announced that Lower Saxony will provide approximately $2.5 million for the hydrogen pilot project at the Krummhoern natural gas storage site.

Krummhoern's geographic location Uniper highlights is ideal for the test and long-term prospects. It is located close to the North Sea where offshore wind facilities are being developed and where there are plans to test hydrogen production. Further, it has a decades-old energy connection to the gas and electricity grids making it an ideal energy location, and it is close to the planned "Green Wilhelmshaven" project.

The site is also close to the hydrogen pilot project KRUH2 which is being undertaken by Open Grid Europe also with government funding. That project focuses on how green hydrogen can be produced on site using an electrolyzer and stored in small quantities to meet a plant's demand for heat, mobility, and electricity. Uniper and OGE have been working closely together for decades in a wide range of technical fields and the project is likely to be a source for the hydrogen stored in the pilot project.

There are several other demonstration projects either planned or already underway also seeking to test hydrogen storage in salt caverns. One project is getting underway in Sweden while another is planned by Dutch gas transmission company Gasunie in the Netherlands. The U.S. Department of Energy also is supporting an Advanced Clean Energy Storage project planned for Utah.