08 Feb 2024, 13:33
Sören Amelang

German energy company plans to store at least 250 GWh of hydrogen in salt caverns by 2030

Clean Energy Wire

German energy company Uniper plans to operate salt caverns as large-scale hydrogen storage within around six years. “The initially envisaged storage capacity will be 250 to 600 GWh, which should be available to the market before the end of 2030,” the company said in a press release. Uniper said it is currently analysing existing and potential new sites along the country’s planned core hydrogen network in detail. The company called for a regulatory and funding framework to create ‘workable business models’. “We as Uniper are making advanced investments. Whether and how the storage projects can be realized will depend largely on the framework conditions and economic viability,” the company’s COO, Holger Kreetz, said.

Uniper is one of the largest natural gas storage operators in Europe and currently operates a total of more than 80 terawatt-hours (TWh) of underground storage capacity in Germany, Austria and the UK. “As part of the hydrogen ramp-up, we want to repurpose some of our storage capacity and build new storage facilities,” said Doug Waters, the head of Uniper’s storage division. “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," he added. The company plans to conclude a comprehensive market consultation to better forecast the demand for hydrogen storage capacities by the end of March.

Uniper is a major German energy supplier, and was Europe’s largest buyer of Russian gas before the energy crisis. Uniper was nationalised after the company lost billions of euros due to the collapse of gas trading between Germany and Russia, although the government is now considering selling part of its stake in the utility, Bloomberg reported.

In comparison to other methods for large-scale storage of hydrogen, the storage of pure hydrogen in cavern storage facilities has already reached industrial maturity, Uniper said. “Cavern storage systems can compensate for short-, mid- and long-term fluctuations in production and demand, and are very efficient due to their rapid injection and withdrawal capabilities and provide required security of supply,” the company added.

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