Uniper to test hydrogen storage on industrial scale in new salt cavern

Uniper's Frank Holschumacher (center) and Johann Westerbuhr (right) accepting the funding notification from Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Olaf Lies (left). Photographer Andreas Burmann
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. Commissioning of the pilot plant with a storage volume of up to 250,000 cubic meters of hydrogen is planned by 2024.

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 at the natural gas storage facility in Krummhoern, Northern Germany, which has not been used commercially since 2017. For this purpose, a new pilot cavern will be sol-technically constructed using an existing well. 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.

The storage facility will be one of the first of its kind and is scheduled to start operating by 2024. Uniper will invest around €10 million in the green future project with a storage volume of up to 250,000 cubic meters of hydrogen.

Complementing Uniper’s nearby Wilhelmshaven site with the ‘Green Wilhelmshaven’ project, Krummhoern’s geographic location near the windy North Sea and its decades-old energy connections to the gas and electricity grids make it an ideal energy location, strengthening the importance of the region and Lower Saxony as an energy hub in Central Europe.

The hydrogen pilot project ‘KRUH2’ of Open Grid Europe GmbH (OGE) is ideally located in the immediate vicinity on the company premises. There, the focus is on how green hydrogen can be produced on site using an electrolyzer and stored in small quantities to meet a plant’s own demand for heat, mobility and electricity. Uniper and OGE have been working closely together for decades in a wide range of technical fields.

On 25 July, Lower Saxony’s Environment Minister Olaf Lies presented the funding notification of €2.375 million for the pilot project. On the occasion of the handover, he said: “The climate crisis and the war against Ukraine are forcing us to push ahead with the energy transition at top speed. It has long been clear that the energy transition cannot be achieved with electrons alone. Hydrogen will be a central element for the success of the energy transition. 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. We are happy to support this path. It’s in all our interests that we go forward quickly.”

Doug Waters, Managing Director of Uniper Energy Storage, said: “We are delighted about the funding commitment from the state of Lower Saxony. With this pilot project, we are gathering the empirical data that we urgently need in a world without fossil fuels: namely, how we can realize the storage capability of green electricity in a CO2-free future.”

HTW Editorial Team

HTW Editorial Team

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