Uniper Energy Storage plans to develop large-volume hydrogen storage facilities using salt caverns in northwest Germany, among other locations. The planned storage capacity in the first phase ranges from 250 to 600 GWh. The storage facilities should be available before the end of 2030.
Uniper intends to further develop its existing storage sites in Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia and identify new locations. Hydrogen storage facilities with a total capacity of up to 600 GWh are to be built and put into operation by the end of 2030.
The storage operator has now launched a market survey so that it can better forecast the required hydrogen storage capacities. Participation is still possible until the end of March 2024. The results will serve as a further basis for the concrete expansion planning of hydrogen storage locations and for the demand-oriented provision of hydrogen storage products in the future.
New construction and rededication of storage facilities for hydrogen ramp-up
The reason: from 2030, large quantities of green hydrogen should be available to the German economy. However, its production will be subject to fluctuations as it depends on volatile renewable energies. The constant availability of green hydrogen is therefore largely dependent on the construction and operation of large-volume storage facilities. This is why existing underground facilities need to be retrofitted quickly and in line with demand, and new facilities need to be built.
According to company COO Holger Kreetz, the Düsseldorf-based storage operator is making advance investments by planning the development of hydrogen storage facilities with a capacity of up to 600 GWh by 2030. Investments in the development of hydrogen storage facilities require a stable regulatory and subsidy framework in order to be able to develop cost-covering business models," emphasizes Holger Kreetz, COO Uniper.
The demand for long-term planning of gas storage facilities was also formulated at the end of January by the newly founded H2eart for Europe alliance at European level.
Uniper Energy Storage wants to play an "even greater role in accelerating the energy transition in Europe in the future while ensuring security of supply", according to CEO Doug Waters. In Germany, Austria and the UK, the storage operator already has storage capacities totaling more than 80 TWh, making it one of the largest in Europe.
HyStorage and Krummhörn
Uniper is currently already operating two hydrogen storage projects: Hydrogen Pilot Cavern (HPC) in Krummhörn in the district of Aurich and HyStorage in Bierwang, Bavaria. The company wants to use them to gain practical experience in the operation of underground hydrogen storage facilities and thus prepare further commercial storage projects.
In general, two types of underground gas storage can be distinguished: Cavern and pore storage. Uniper Energy Storage is currently running pilot projects for both types. Krummhörn covers cavern storage. This storage technology has already reached industrial maturity on a large scale. The advantage: cavern storage systems can compensate for short, medium and long-term fluctuations in production and demand. They can also inject and withdraw gases particularly quickly.
Uniper intends to operate the HPC Krummhörn for research purposes until 2025. The site will then be further developed commercially in order to provide a storage capacity of 250 GWh in a first step. The commissioning of the first commercial hydrogen storage facility in Krummhörn is planned for the third quarter of 2029, for which Uniper Energy Storage plans to invest a further €200 million in the construction of the above-ground and adaptation of the underground facilities over the next five years. In the future, it is also possible to expand the site to higher storage capacities after 2030.
Pore storage facilities are mainly found in southern Germany. They can be used primarily for the seasonal storage of large volumes with high injection and withdrawal rates. Uniper Energy Storage is currently conducting the HyStorage research project with the consortium partners OGE, RAG Austria, SEFE Securing Energy for Europe and NAFTA and other partners from industry and science. It aims to generate findings on the influence of hydrogen on porous rock formations in order to determine the suitability and integrity of pore storage systems for hydrogen storage. In general, pore storage systems are very different, which is why their suitability for hydrogen must be evaluated individually.