Tuesday, August 16, 2022

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Raising awareness of hydrogen and energy storage pathways

The E-world Energy & Water conference was organised for the 21st time in Essen this year between 21-23 of June. The conference and exhibition was visited by 15,000 people and the 736 exhibitors came from a total of 27 countries. The special feature of the event is that it provides a significant number of energy companies from Europe (or with a European base) with a special opportunity to establish and build corporate contracts, share knowledge and present diverse technical and economical achievements.

Hungarian Gas Storage together with MVM CEEnergy and MVM Partner participated as an exhibitor at this event for the 7th occasion. Tamás Mérő, reservoir team leader & innovation project manager of the Aquamarine project at Hungarian Gas Storage writes about the latest developments in hydrogen technology presented at E-world.

After the pandemic period, it was refreshing to meet in person those partners with whom we could only keep in touch digitally until now. It is worth mentioning that significant progress has been achieved by the exhibitors of the event in the last 2 years (as in 2021 the event was cancelled due to the pandemic) regarding the spread of hydrogen economy, both in the fields of business and technical-innovation.

One of the main purposes of our company, Hungarian Gas Storage (HGS), is to achieve significant regional results in hydrogen technologies by 2030, therefore it is extremely important to disseminate and introduce our current projects (e.g. Aquamarine project) as widely as possible and to involve international partners in our further project initiatives. E-world Energy and Water 2022 provided an excellent opportunity for reaching these goals.

During professional meetings, we became familiar with several projects, among these the Green Hydrogen Hub Denmark was outstanding. This project was founded by three companies: the Danish Eurowind Energy, Corre energy from the Netherlands and Danish state-owned Gas Storage Denmark.

The goal of the project is ambitious: the creation of Power-to-X pathways with 350 MW electrolysis capacity, an associated hydrogen storage capacity of 200,000 MWh and a 320 MW compressed air energy storage (CAES) by 2025. By utilising the PV and wind power capacities, they will be able to supply 280,000 households with green electricity, while making significant progress towards energy storage technologies. They will develop their hydrogen storage and compressed air storage technologies in existing salt caverns operated by Gas Storage Denmark.

Several manufacturers were represented during the event, including companies which focus not only on the spread of hydrogen economy. With the help of various reformers, hydrogen can be produced from natural gas, LPG and biogas, which can be used in many areas of the energy sector.

During the event, not only the energy companies but also the research institutes and laboratories that closely cooperate with them participated as exhibitors. We were presented with a number of project initiatives in which technology readiness is still low, but their industrial application could bring a significant breakthrough in solving various energy storage challenges.

The impact of conventional batteries on the environment is well-known, but redox-flow batteries can be a solution, which can already be used in laboratory scale conditions. Redox-flow batteries are based on a liquid storage medium with electrochemical devices. The principle of operation is almost the same as in the case of fuel cells.

The Aquamarine Project of HGS also attracted many interested parties. In general, it can be stated, when the project reaches the implementation phase, it will join an illustrious family which will investigate the expected long-term effects of hydrogen in existing underground gas storage circumstances in the framework of industrial applied research.

In terms of techno-economic feasibilities, a striking difference is the utilisation of pure hydrogen vs. hydrogen blended natural gas. The trend of Western and Northern Europe is to transmit the produced hydrogen through dedicated or separated pipelines to consumption, while in the CEE region the utilisation of hydrogen blended natural gas is also emphasized.

The main reason is primarily historical and geological. In Western and Northern Europe there are available salt caverns and domes where hydrogen can be stored in a pure way, nevertheless in Hungary, in Austria and in Slovakia there are no such geological formations on a large scale, so only the existing porous depleted gas fields can be used and in these reservoirs, there is always a residual amount of natural gas, which is mixing with each other in the case of storing hydrogen. The utilisation of hydrogen blended natural gas raises further questions of safety, environmentally and regulatory pathways using our existing infrastructure and poses significantly greater technical-economic challenges.

We are extremely excited about the next E-world Energy & Water 2023, which will be held on 23-25 May, 2023 and we will continue to pay special attention to the practical implementation and operation of the worldwide energy storage projects.

Sponsored by Hungarian Gas Storage

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