Dutch gas grid operator Gasunie will partner with STORAG ETZEL GmbH on a pilot project that aims to repurpose salt caverns near Wilhelmshaven in northern Germany to store hydrogen.
In the first phase of the H2 Cavern Storage Transition (H2CAST) project, two of the existing salt caverns in Etzel, Lower Saxony, will be upgraded to store hydrogen and will be connected through a facility above the ground. As part of the pilot project, Gasunie will be responsible for the installation connecting the two caverns.
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Completion of the pilot project is planned for 2026.
The cavern storage facility in Etzel has a strategic location as it is connected to the Dutch and German hydrogen markets and is close to Gasunie's future hydrogen network HyPerLink and the Energy-Hub Port of Wilhelmshaven.
Storag Etzel has been building, maintaining and leasing underground storage capacity for natural gas and crude oil at the site since 1971. According to the company's website, around 4.3 billion cubic metres (1.135tr gallons) of natural gas are currently stored in 51 caverns and more than 10 million cubic metres of crude oil can be stored in another 24 caverns.
For Gasunie, the participation in the project is a first step in the development of hydrogen storage facilities in Germany.
"Hydrogen is going to play an important role in the future energy system, especially for making industry more sustainable. For a well-functioning hydrogen market, large-scale hydrogen storage is a crucial component. Gasunie has the ambition to develop salt caverns for hydrogen storage in both the Netherlands and Germany," said Gasunie's chief executive Han Fennema.
The other partners working on H2CAST Etzel include DEEP.KBB, DLR, HARTMANN Valves, SOCON and TU Clausthal.