8 Aug 2023

Press release

Research project on hydrogen storage launched

  • Bierwang porous rock storage is being tested for its feasibility as a hydrogen storage facility
  •  Commissioning begins with first hydrogen storage
  • Hydrogen storage essential for the decarbonization of the European energy market

The HyStorage research project aims to investigate the influence of hydrogen on porous rock formations in order to determine the feasibility and integrity of pore storage facilities for the storage of hydrogen. For this purpose, a specialized gas-technical unit for the storage test was set up on a designated drilling site at Uniper Energy Storage's Bierwang site. Commissioning is currently in progress and first hydrogen will be injected from September onwards.

Uniper Energy Storage is the consortium leader, operator and responsible for the test under mining law. The consortium is further consisting of the companies OGE, RAG Austria, SEFE Securing Energy for Europe and NAFTA, which contribute their expertise, and is also supported by interdisciplinary partners from industry and science. The project has been approved by the Southern Bavarian Mining Authority.

The storage test intends to inject different methane-hydrogen gas mixtures with 5 per cent, 10 per cent and 25 per cent hydrogen content in the natural gas into a smaller former natural gas reservoir in three operating phases and to withdraw it again after a standstill period of about three months. The storage horizon is independent of the existing Bierwang natural gas storage facility.

“Hydrogen plays a crucial role in our new strategy and HyStorage is part of its execution. HyStorage is a promising project to test the existing natural gas infrastructure for the potential transition to green hydrogen. It will also help accelerate the energy transition while ensuring security of supply to our customers. The project will provide insights into how porous rock storage and technical gas facilities will perform when the hydrogen economy ramps up,” says Doug Waters, Managing Director of Uniper Energy Storage. “The demand for storage capacity will grow as renewables expand and real-life data is needed to make informed decisions. Porous rock storage not only holds tremendous potential to provide flexibility for the emerging hydrogen market, but also to connect to European hydrogen corridors.”

Hydrogen is becoming an essential element for the decarbonization of the European energy market. It can be assumed that in addition to the operation of pure hydrogen pipelines, the share of hydrogen in the natural gas grid will also increase and thus reach the underground gas storage facilities. Porous rock storage facilities have the great advantage that they can provide a large-volume conversion and storage solution for volatile renewable energies.

“The future hydrogen infrastructure must function safely and reliably. This also includes the interchange between hydrogen transport and hydrogen storage. Monitoring the gas quality during injection and withdrawal is our focus in this project. This will enable us to transport hydrogen or natural gas-hydrogen mixtures within the required quality as part of the energy mix of the future,” says Dr. Thomas Hüwener, member of the OGE management board.

“With our ‘Underground Sun Storage’ projects in Austria, we have been able to gain valuable experience in the production of hydrogen as well as storage in porous rock reservoirs. We see the sustainable use of our storage facilities and gas infrastructure for hydrogen as an essential contribution to enabling the renewable energy future and maintaining security of supply,” says Markus Mitteregger, CEO of RAG Austria.

“HyStorage makes a contribution to the decarbonization of our business. Through HyStorage, we want to better explore the storage of gas-hydrogen mixtures in underground storage, also with a view to potential investments in hydrogen infrastructure,” says Egbert Laege, CEO of SEFE.

“The NAFTA company is more than 110 years active in the gas industry. We believe that hydrogen is one of the promising energy carriers and therefore we actively support various projects focused on underground hydrogen storage. We perceive the HyStorage project as unique project, where the injection of hydrogen in various mixtures with natural gas into the underground storage will be tested. The results of the given project can have significant impact on the further direction of hydrogen infrastructure”, says Martin Bartošovič, CEO of NAFTA.

For hydrogen storage in porous rock reservoirs, an individual investigation of the sites is required. The expertise of the experienced project partners and the scientific support of the test ensure that the collected data is fully analyzed and evaluated so that reliable technical assessments for the storage of hydrogen in porous rock formations can be expected as early as 2024.