Two years after the start of the project, the world’s first hydrogen storage facility in an underground porous reservoir, in Gampern, Upper Austria has gone into operation at the end of April 2023.
“In our pioneering demonstration facility, we will bring 4.2 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of summer electricity in the form of hydrogen into the winter and thus secure the
supply of renewable energies,” commented Markus Mitteregger, CEO of RAG Austria, the initiator of the project and technology leader. “We map the entire value chain and focus on a perfect interplay of generation, conversion, storage and future utilisation paths of green hydrogen.”
In the future, this geological storage facility will be able to convert the solar power surplus of around 1,000 family homes from the summer into hydrogen and store it seasonally.
“In Gampern in Upper Austria, we are demonstrating what is possible and necessary to
ensure a secure supply of green energy throughout the year and thus enable the energy
transition,” Mr Mitteregger emphasised.
The pioneering work of RAG Austria and its partners is of utmost importance for companies, political decision-makers and authorities for the future transformation of energy systems. The results of the Underground Sun Storage demonstration project will make it possible to reposition gas storage facilities with their enormous storage volumes in the energy system of the future, also as hydrogen and green power storage facilities.
Austria in particular has great potential with its ideal geological structures and existing modern storage capacities. This will make it possible to decouple the generation of renewable energy and its short-term consumption and enable year-round security of supply.
“A rapid ramp-up of hydrogen is essential,” commented Mr Mitteregger. “It is not enough to push the expansion of renewable energies. The solar and wind power of the summer months must be made storable and thus brought into the winter when wind is not constant and sun and water do not supply enough energy to meet the increased demand. Experts predict a seasonal energy transfer of 10 terawatt-hours (TWh) per year by 2030 in Austria alone. Underground Sun Storage is the first step in this direction, which must be followed by others.”
“Climate protection is one of the central tasks of our generation,” added Austrian Federal Minister of Finance and Mining, Magnus Brunner. “Our goals are ambitious: 100 per cent renewable electricity in and from Austria by 2030 and climate neutrality in Austria by
2040 – still ten years ahead of the EU. To achieve these climate targets, we need
investment, innovation and cooperation. In any case, we must not concentrate on a few
technologies but must remain open to new technologies. With the world’s first geological
hydrogen storage facility, RAG is focusing precisely on this technological openness, which
we so urgently need: the stored green hydrogen makes an important contribution to year-round supply security and, at the same time, replaces fossil natural gas and thus reduces our dependence. A win-win situation for climate and location.”
Under the leadership of RAG Austria, hydrogen will be produced in the customised demonstration facility by 2025 and stored underground in a gas reservoir in order to be used in the region in the future as a material or as an energy source or also directly via hydrogen power plants to serve the security of supply with electricity and heat.
At the same time, interdisciplinary technical-scientific investigations will be carried out under real conditions at a small former natural gas reservoir for the energy future. These investigations will be complemented by the development of suitable processes and by the development of suitable processing technologies, the modelling of future energy scenarios and techno-economic analyses, including the utilisation of hydrogen as a substitute for fossil natural gas; direct use in energy-intensive industries; processing requirements and technology; and utilisation possibilities of hydrogen with high purity.