Can hydrogen storage solve our energy supply challenge?
An increasing reliance on intermittent renewable electricity sources has made it difficult to balance supply with demand. This is likely to become more challenging as the proportion of renewables in our energy system increases.
One solution is the large-scale geological storage of energy in the form of hydrogen. Electricity generated from stored hydrogen can balance summer-to-winter seasonal energy demands, with the added potential for hydrogen to repurpose the gas grid and replace methane for heating.
This is significant as heating our buildings – both domestic and commercial – is currently the largest source of carbon emissions in the UK, exceeding those for electricity generation. However, the underground storage of hydrogen in porous rocks has not yet been demonstrated commercially.
The HyStorPor project is addressing the questions that require answers before commercial trials can begin. Through state-of-the-art laboratory experiments, our team will explore the geological underground storage of hydrogen in geographically-widespread porous rocks.
While hydrogen storage in caverns of halite (salt) is well established in the UK, this type of geology only occurs in Teesside and Cheshire, which means long and costly transport to consumers in other areas. Methane (natural) gas in the UK is already stored onshore in porous reservoirs and offshore in re-purposed natural gas fields.
Our partner expertise in hydrocarbon reservoirs, geological assessment of CO2 storage, and compressed air energy storage using porous rocks allows us to undertake rigorous assessment for the purpose of hydrogen storage.
The project also includes a multidisciplinary information hub on hydrogen usage and storage, based at the University of Edinburgh.