Uniper Energy Storage has announced it will develop salt caverns for large-volume hydrogen storage in north west Germany.
Uniper is aiming to develop an underground storage capacity for 250 to 600GWh of hydrogen by 2030, and will investigate existing and new sites in lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, along the 9,700km hydrogen core network.
However, to achieve its business model, investments in the development of hydrogen storage facilities will require regulatory and funding framework, according to Holger Kreetz, Uniper’s Chief Operating Officer (COO).
Uniper’s current Hydrogen Pilot Cavern (HPC) in Krummhörn and HyStorage project in Bierwang are already part of the company’s Greener Gases strategy and will serve to prepare the planned commercial storage projects.
The Krummhörn project will deliver results by 2025 and then be further developed commercially to make a storage capacity of 250GWh available to the market. The commissioning of the first commercial hydrogen storage facility in Krummhörn is anticipated for 2029, with an investment of around €200m being provided for the scale-up.
After 2030, there will be an option to expand the site to further increase storage capacities.
To forecast the demand for the required hydrogen storage capacities, Uniper will carry out a comprehensive market consultation from now until the end of March 2024. These results will serve as an additional basis for hydrogen storage sites and for the demand of hydrogen storage products in the future.
The potential of salt caverns
Last year (2023), H2 View delved deeper into salt cavern storage solutions and its potential for the hydrogen market.
Described as a “killer application,” salt caverns could prove to be the ideal solution moving forward, with great potential in European countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the UK.
Salt caverns have been used for hydrogen storage by the UK chemical sector since the 1970s, and since the 1980s in the US. The IEA has presumed that the solution could be one of the most efficient processes, typically cost less than $0.6/kgH, and have low risk of contaminating the hydrogen.
Read more here.
The COO, Kreetz, has reiterated the project’s need for funding, if Uniper are to achieve its ambitious storage plans.
“Whether and how the storage projects can be realised will depend largely on the framework conditions and economic viability,” said Kreetz.
“We have concrete proposals that ensure a balance between the necessary hedging of investment risks and a competitive market model on the one hand, and security of supply through storage on the other.”
Uniper Energy Storage’s Managing Director, Doug Waters, added, “We have a total of more than 80TWh of underground gas storage capacity for natural gas in Germany, Austria and the UK. This makes Uniper one of the largest storage operators in Europe.
“As part of the hydrogen ramp-up, we want to repurpose some of our storage capacities and build new storage facilities.
“This will enable us to store renewable energy in the form of hydrogen for industries that are difficult to electrify and potentially later on for long duration energy storage, allowing for better management of volatile renewable energies.”