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Large-scale hydrogen storage possible in natural gas fields

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A recent study by Element NL member NAM has shown that storing substantial amounts of renewable energy, such as hydrogen, in depleted gas fields is possible. In the article, they discuss the economic and technical feasibility, as well as what conditions must be met to make it happen. Underground hydrogen storage may therefore play a crucial role in the energy transition, and the insights are valuable for developing the future energy system.

Hydrogen as a replacement for natural gas
Hydrogen is likely to play a significant role in the energy transition and the future energy system as a whole, for instance, as an alternative in sectors where high temperatures are needed and for the storage and transportation of renewable energy. Given the possible storage methods, hydrogen scores well in terms of capacity and time scale, meaning it can play a role like that currently played by natural gas.

Storage requirements and cost efficiency
Although current hydrogen demand is still low, estimates of storage needs by 2050 range from a few to tens of TWh (1 TWh = 1,000 GWh = 1,000,000 MWh). Given the connections with neighbouring countries, importing and exporting hydrogen will be possible. The study outlines scenarios where several TWh can be stored in large fields, allowing for a peak capacity of about 10 GW. Large-scale storage could mean better cost efficiency.

Open questions and conditions
The article reveals, however, that there are still some open questions about material compatibility, subterranean chemical and microbial reactions, coating-sealing capacity, dispersion and diffusion, engineering safety and seismic risks. In addition to the technical feasibility, public acceptance in particular is an important condition for selecting a gas field.

Role of the gas industry
Element NL sees great potential in developing the hydrogen market, and the role that gas companies play will be crucial in this process, as the study shows. It had previously been demonstrated that the natural gas infrastructure is suitable for large-scale hydrogen use. These findings on storage in depleted gas fields show once again how the gas industry can contribute to the energy transition and the energy system of the future.


Read the white paper in full here: 'Underground hydrogen storage in depleted gas fields'

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