AUSTRIA’S RAG LAUNCHES WORLD’S FIRST UNDERGROUND HYDROGEN STORAGE PILOT
Austria’s RAG has launched the world’s first underground hydrogen storage pilot at a former natural gas reservoir in Rubensdorf.
The project is aimed at demonstrating the role that hydrogen can play in seasonal energy storage. The pilot will store 1.2 million cubic meters of hydrogen, equivalent to 4.2 GWh of power. The hydrogen will be produced by a 2 MW proton-exchange-membrane electrolyzer provided by Cummins, which will initially operate off baseload power to fill the reservoir with sufficient hydrogen. Later in the project’s timeline, the electrolyzer will be more flexibly operated to store excess renewable electricity on the grid. The project aims to test hydrogen withdrawals at the site by the end of this year.
Hydrogen is a promising energy carrier and can be produced from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, through water electrolysis. However, as renewable energy sources are variable, the storage of hydrogen is critical to ensure a stable supply of energy. Seasonal hydrogen storage, where hydrogen is stored for several months to balance the seasonal variability of renewable energy, is an important challenge for the integration of hydrogen into the energy system.
RAG’s underground hydrogen storage pilot is an important step towards realizing this vision. The Rubensdorf site is a former natural gas reservoir with existing infrastructure, which makes it an attractive location for hydrogen storage. The site has a capacity of up to 12 million cubic meters, and the pilot will demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of underground hydrogen storage.
The pilot project is supported by the Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation, and Technology, and is part of the European Commission’s Hydrogen Strategy, which aims to establish a hydrogen economy in Europe.
While the pilot project has the potential to pave the way for large-scale hydrogen storage, there are challenges to overcome. One challenge is the cost of hydrogen storage, which needs to be reduced to enable large-scale deployment. Another challenge is the safety of hydrogen storage, as hydrogen is a highly flammable gas. The underground storage of hydrogen is one way to address these challenges, as it can provide a safe and cost-effective solution for large-scale hydrogen storage.
In conclusion, RAG’s underground hydrogen storage pilot in Rubensdorf is a significant milestone in the development of the hydrogen economy. The pilot will demonstrate the potential of underground hydrogen storage for seasonal energy storage and pave the way for large-scale deployment. While there are challenges to overcome, the pilot project is a promising step towards a more sustainable and decarbonized energy system.