BLOG: Demonstrating the deployment of grid-scale storage of hydrogen

Richard Stevenson, Hydrogen Business Development Manager at INOVYN talks about the potential to store hydrogen in salt cavities in Cheshire as part of the HySecure Project, and how this is essential to underpin the delivery of a hydrogen energy system in the UK.

While momentum is gathering behind hydrogen as a key part of the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy, large-scale hydrogen deployment in the gas grid for industrial and domestic consumers will require unprecedented volumes of storage capacity. Some natural gas storage capability already exists in the gas grid, but security of supply also relies on a diversity of sources (European interconnectors, North Sea supply, LNG import and gas grid storage capability).

The hydrogen network of the future will not benefit from this diversity of supply (particularly at the start of the roll-out), and the low volumetric energy density of hydrogen means that the gas grid cannot provide the same amount of “line-pack” storage for hydrogen as it can for natural gas.

This means that proving large-scale, low-cost hydrogen storage is an essential step to demonstrating the viability of a hydrogen energy system in the UK. Proving this part of the hydrogen supply chain will de-risk future, much larger, investments by demonstrating that the UK has the capacity to store hydrogen in the volumes needed to maintain security of supply.

INOVYN with our partner Storengy have extensive experience of salt cavity gas storage and the safe manufacture, handling and distribution of chemicals and gases. We are working on the HySecure Project, which aims to prove bulk quantities of hydrogen can be stored in underground salt cavities (which exist in places like Cheshire) in quantities and at a cost which conventional above-ground storage solutions cannot provide.

Currently, high-pressure above-ground storage of hydrogen faces costs of £400 to over £1,000 per kilogram of stored hydrogen capacity, depending on the material of the storage vessel and pressure level. Whilst a number of research initiatives are aimed at reducing these costs, they are unlikely to ever be competitive with salt cavity storage costs, which can be significantly lower than above ground storage for large scale projects.

A single hydrogen storage salt cavity is capable of storing more than 1,000 tonnes of hydrogen, equivalent to 50GWh’s of stored energy. The HySecure Project will be able to provide backup hydrogen supply and storage services to emerging hydrogen transport schemes in the North West and beyond. In addition, with the appropriate pipeline connections it would also be capable of balancing supply and demand within a hydrogen energy network.

Funded by phase 1 of the BEIS Hydrogen Supply Competition, INOVYN have already proven the feasibility of the project and started a number of engineering studies to consider the next stages of design and development. INOVYN are now looking for additional funding to support the continued development and implementation of the project as part of the North West’s growing network of hydrogen initiatives.

The HySecure demonstration project has the potential to constitute an essential component of the phased transition towards a low-carbon economy, necessary to meet the UK’s emission targets over coming decades.

If you want to know more about INOVYN’s hydrogen solutions for transport, power to gas, energy storage and hydrogen storage email