Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Olaf Lies presented the funding notification of €2.375 million for Uniper’s planned hydrogen pilot project at the Krummhoern natural gas storage site.
The climate crisis and the war against Ukraine are forcing us to push ahead with the energy transition at top speed. It has long been clear that the energy transition cannot be achieved with electrons alone. Hydrogen will be a central element for the success of the energy transition. We need it to become independent of fossil fuels and to decarbonize our energy sector and industry. The advantage of hydrogen is that it can be stored. In order for it to develop this advantage, we need storage facilities, including caverns. I’m pleased that Uniper wants to use cavern storage for hydrogen here in Lower Saxony. We are happy to support this path. It’s in all our interests that we go forward quickly.—Olaf Lies
Storing electricity converted to hydrogen is important for balancing supply and demand fluctuations in the future. But existing storage facilities are designed for natural gas and would need to be converted to use hydrogen.
Uniper Energy Storage will test the construction and operation of a new salt cavern specifically built for hydrogen storage on a large scale and in a real-world environment at the natural gas storage facility in Krummhoern, Northern Germany, which has not been used commercially since 2017.
For this purpose, a new pilot cavern will be sol-technically constructed using an existing well. During the trial operation, equipment and materials will be examined for hydrogen compatibility, and experience will be gained in the storage of exclusively green hydrogen in a salt cavern and its delivery and further use.
The storage facility will be one of the first of its kind and is scheduled to start operating by 2024. Uniper will invest around €10 million in the project with a storage volume of up to 250,000 cubic meters of hydrogen.
Complementing Uniper’s nearby Wilhelmshaven site with the “Green Wilhelmshaven” project, Krummhoern’s geographic location near the windy North Sea and its decades-old energy connections to the gas and electricity grids make it an ideal energy location, strengthening the importance of the region and Lower Saxony as an energy hub in Central Europe.
The hydrogen pilot project “KRUH2” of Open Grid Europe GmbH (OGE), which is also funded by the state of Lower Saxony, is located in the immediate vicinity on the company premises. Here, the focus is on how green hydrogen can be produced on site using an electrolyzer and stored in small quantities to meet a plant’s own demand for heat, mobility and electricity. Uniper and OGE have been working closely together for decades in a wide range of technical fields.