Fossil-free underground hydrogen gas storage facility in Luleå


SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall are inaugurating HYBRIT’s pilot facility in Svartöberget, Luleå, Sweden for the storage of fossil-free hydrogen gas.

The storage facility in the rock cavern is the first of its sort in the world. The ceremony marks the beginning of the two-year test period, which will last until 2024.

The HYBRIT program was started in 2016 by SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall, the three owners. The hydrogen storage facility will play a crucial role in the full value chain for the manufacture of fossil-free iron and steel. Producing fossil-free hydrogen gas when there is an abundance of energy, such as when there is a lot of wind, and using stored hydrogen gas when the electricity system is overloaded will assure a steady production of sponge iron, the raw material for fossil-free steel.

“Sweden will create new jobs by leading the climate change transition, and HYBRIT is a good example of doing just that with green technology and innovation. When we build the energy system of the future, we need to both take advantage of opportunities to store energy and ensure that large energy users can be flexible in their consumption. This is exactly what HYBRIT does through its unique hydrogen storage”, says Minister for Energy and Digital Development Khashayar Farmanbar.

“We want to develop HYBRIT so that it is in line with the electricity system of the future, with more weather-dependent electricity generation. The storage facility is unique and once again the HYBRIT initiative is taking the lead in the fossil-free transition. HYBRIT is very important for facing the climate challenge and enabling fossil-free living within one generation,” says Andreas Regnell, Chairman of the Board, Hybrit Development AB (HDAB) and Senior Vice President and Head of Strategic Development at Vattenfall.

“SSAB has the opportunity to transform our operations and cut 10% of Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions as well as 7% of Finland’s, and this will take us one step closer to our goal. The hydrogen storage facility is an important piece of the puzzle in ensuring stable steel production and a milestone in the development of HYBRIT,” says Martin Pei, CTO at SSAB.

“Hydrogen gas and its storage are central to our transition. In four years, HYBRIT technology will be used on a large scale in the first demonstration plant in Gällivare, and the plan is to then build more sponge iron factories. LKAB will therefore need to become one of Europe’s biggest hydrogen producers, and this pilot project will provide valuable knowledge for the continuing work on creating the world’s first fossil-free value chain for the iron and steel industry,” says Lars Ydreskog, Senior Vice President Strategic Projects at LKAB.

“The pilot plant is important in order to really test and understand how large-scale hydrogen storage works. Storage of hydrogen gas will be an important piece of the puzzle for a fossil-free value chain for the iron and steel industry, but also in a future robust electrical system,” says Klara Helstad, Head of Sustainable Industry Unit at the Swedish Energy Agency.

The technology for storing gas in a lined rock cavern (LRC) has been utilized to store natural gas in southern Sweden for around 20 years. Currently, the storage of hydrogen gas is being developed, and the storage facility will be utilized more dynamically, being filled and emptied at the same rate as hydrogen production.

The pilot plant is 100 cubic meters in size. In the future, a facility capable of storing up to 100 GWh of electricity converted to hydrogen gas, enough to power a full-scale sponge iron production for three to four days, may be required.

SSAB can lower Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10 percent using HYBRIT technology. In three equal portions, SSAB, LKAB, and Vattenfall invest a total of SEK 259 million in the hydrogen storage itself, while the Swedish Energy Agency provides SEK 72 million.

Nedim Husomanovic

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