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MFGT’s Aquamarine Project electrolyser construction launches at Kardoskút

Hungarian Gas Storage (MFGT) launched the construction of its 2.5-megawatt (MW) electrolyser and hydrogen gasifier technology within the framework of the Aquamarine Project.

Aquamarine Project
Foundation stone at Kardoskút.

The launch which was publicly marked with the laying of a foundation stone at the Kardoskút Underground Gas Storage Facility in the Southern Great Plain region of Hungary brought together key stakeholders involved in implementing, financing and researching the project.

In line with the National Hydrogen Strategy which was adopted by the Government of Hungary in May 2021, the construction of this electrolysis plant is a strategically important innovation related to the development of the country’s energy storage technology.

“For Hungary, hydrogen is very important. Our hydrogen strategy has two main pillars. One is hydrogen as interim storage for those electric energy sources which are renewable like photovoltaics, for instance. The other is about how hydrogen could be used in greening the Hungarian economy”, László Palkovics, the Minister for Innovation and Technology told CEENERGYNEWS, while also announcing at the ceremony that more funding will become available for hydrogen-related projects in Hungary.

“[…] Many technical but also business questions on how to use technologies for natural gas, either for pure hydrogen or for blended hydrogen will be answered by this project which is why the Aquamarine project is very important. That’s the reason why the Hungarian government is financing up to two-thirds of it”, he said.

The funding requirement of the Aquamarine project is more than 3 billion Hungarian forints (approximately 8 million euros) of which more than 2 billion is a grant from the Ministry of Innovation and Technology and the National Office for Research and Innovation. The rest is provided by MFGT.

The electrolyser, the construction of which will be finalised by the end of 2022, is meant to facilitate hydrogen production through electrolysis by using surplus electricity and then blended with natural gas for MFGT’s own gas-operated equipment. The launch of the electrolyser should ultimately allow Hungarian Gas Storage to reduce CO2 emissions from its operations, strengthen its commitment to the decarbonisation process and if possible, release the blended hydrogen to the natural gas supply system.

Aquamarine Project
Ákos Kriston, CEO of the Hungarian Gas Storage.

“This is the first state-owned project which deals with hydrogen production but this is only a test phase. It is designed to research how all the surface and subsurface interface behaves if we want to store hydrogen underground”, Ákos Kriston, CEO of the Hungarian Gas Storage told CEENERGYNEWS.

“Hydrogen produced here will have two or three methods of usage. First is that we will blend it with natural gas; […] the second usage is that we will inject hydrogen, blend it with methane and we’ll send it out to the Hungarian gas transmission network. The third is storage which is our ultimate goal but we will have results on it in a couple of years, through another project,” he added.

In order to allow permitting of the Aquamarine project and similar facilities, Mr Kriston said that MFGT has held consultations regarding the amendment to the Mining Act based on consultations with competent mining authorities. In parallel, the company is now conducting regulation-related negotiations with the natural gas supply system stakeholders to ensure that the blend of hydrogen and natural gas could appear in the supply system for commercial purposes.

Zsolt Bertalan, who is Chief Technology Innovation Officer at MVM Group, an energy provider company that is also a subsidiary of Hungarian Gas Storage, shared that through innovation projects like Aquamarine, specific technical, legal and commercial questions will be answered.

“Based on that knowledge and experience we can build on when we carry out other, larger hydrogen projects”, he said.

“The goal set by the MVM Group in the field of hydrogen is to become an indispensable player in the production of carbon-free hydrogen by 2030, to be able to operate a hydrogen-receiving infrastructure and to provide carbon-free hydrogen at competitive prices in addition to electricity, natural gas and heat”, Mr Bertalan told CEENERGYNEWS, adding that the results of the project’s R&D program will be one of the cornerstones of the Hungarian hydrogen economy.

The research and development programme of the Aquamarine project started in the spring of 2021 when four universities and research institutes, including the Budapest University of Technology, the University of Debrecen, the University of Miskolc, the University of Veszprém and the University of Miskolc’s Research Institute for Electronics and Informatics came together to study the hydrogen stability of surface technology. The results of their studies have already been carried out and incorporated into the design plans of the electrolyser and hydrogen gasifier technology.

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