EWE Gasspeicher, a prominent German energy company, has taken steps to convert an existing natural gas cavern into a hydrogen storage facility. The application for this transformation has been submitted to the Federal Network Agency, marking a crucial milestone in the journey towards decarbonization.
The cavern earmarked for this transformation is located in Huntorf, Lower Saxony, and has historically been utilized for storing fossil fuels, namely natural gas. However, EWE Gasspeicher aims to repurpose this underground infrastructure for a greener purpose—to store CO2-free hydrogen instead.
The endeavor aligns with Germany’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning towards cleaner energy sources, especially in the storage and distribution of gases vital to its energy landscape.
The conversion of a gas cavern from natural gas to hydrogen is not a straightforward process. In Germany, the Energy Industry Act (EnWG) outlines the regulations that govern the operations of energy storage facilities, including gas storage. Specifically, it obliges storage operators to notify the Federal Network Agency, the country’s regulatory authority for energy, about any intention to decommission a gas storage facility.
Decommissioning, in this context, can involve a complete shutdown of the facility or, as in EWE Gasspeicher’s case, a transformation for a different purpose—hydrogen storage. Approval from the regulatory authority is a prerequisite for any such changes to take place.
EWE Gasspeicher’s decision to convert the Huntorf cavern is a testament to the growing importance of hydrogen in the global energy landscape. Hydrogen is considered a key player in the transition towards cleaner and more sustainable energy systems. Its ability to store and transport clean energy, particularly from renewable sources, makes it a vital component of efforts to decarbonize various sectors, including industry, transportation, and heating.
The Huntorf project exemplifies the potential of repurposing existing infrastructure to accommodate the changing energy landscape. By converting a cavern previously used for fossil gas into a hydrogen storage facility, EWE Gasspeicher is not only contributing to the reduction of carbon emissions but also making the most of existing resources and infrastructure.