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Slovakia’s gas sector is keen to meet growing hydrogen demand

Slovakia’s gas Transmission System Operator (TSO) Eustream together with natural gas storage and underground facility operator NAFTA and the owner and operator of the gas distribution network sector SPP-distribúcia are recognising the importance to develop hydrogen and the adequate infrastructure to transport it and store it.

Their common research and development project H2 Infrastructure (H2I) is specifically composed of two separate projects (transport and storage/distribution), with consideration by the European Commission currently postponed.

“Our company has been researching energy storage since 2014 when we joined the international consortium behind Underground Sun Storage and since then we have been involved in several projects and professional platforms exactly in this area,” explained NAFTA CEO Martin Bartošovič. “Our participation in H2I S&D sends a clear signal about our interest in developing opportunities in hydrogen storage not just within international consortia, but also under conditions here in Slovakia, where we can build on NAFTA’s many years of experience and topflight technological background in underground gas storage.”

The first phase of H2I S&D has NAFTA experts seeking an appropriate location for storing hydrogen mixed with natural gas. Once an appropriate underground geological structure has been identified, laboratory research will then be carried out.

“The research phase includes testing core samples from the selected structure,” pointed out Roman Závada, head of NAFTA’s innovation department, adding that it would follow a broad spectrum of parameters such as possible geochemical and microbial reactions and changes in the rocks, with laboratory research defining hydrogen concentration in the natural gas mixture that can fluctuate by tens of per cent.

The second phase of the project involves constructing a pilot test of the technology to be used to generate hydrogen through water electrolysis. The hydrogen would then be mixed with natural gas at concentrations defined in the first phase of the project, with the mixture stored in underground facilities. The objective is not one-cycle testing, but rather to test multi-cycle production and injection in order to obtain more data about the impact and behaviour of hydrogen stored underground, thereby creating a comprehensive image of how it can be stored in specific rock structures. Results from laboratory testing and the models thereby created will also be verified, with the models corrected by real data.

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