European Union and the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, the Hypster project is poised to transform the landscape of renewable hydrogen storage.
This innovative initiative, driven by ENGIE subsidiary Storengy, aims to produce and store hydrogen on a massive scale underground, signaling a significant leap towards a sustainable energy future.
The Hypster project encompasses two critical components: the storage of hydrogen in salt caverns and the production of hydrogen using an electrolyzer powered by renewable energy sources. Developed at the Etrez natural gas storage site, this innovation is now entering the testing phase, with ambitious plans for large-scale implementation in 2024.
With an overall budget of 15.5 million Euros, including substantial EU support of 5 million Euros, this unique demonstrator project holds the key to establishing an industrial-scale renewable hydrogen storage sector. The technologies and economic models pioneered here are primed for replication at sites across Europe.
Kicking off in January 2021, the HyPSTER project is now transitioning to the implementation stage. At the heart of this endeavor is the production of hydrogen at the Etrez site near Lyon, France. A 1-megawatt electrolyzer will be responsible for generating 400 kilograms of hydrogen daily. Simultaneously, in the EZ53 cavern, storage tests are set to commence.
These tests will involve around a hundred cycles of hydrogen pressure variation over three months, all while ensuring there is no inflow or outflow of hydrogen. This rigorous testing phase is vital in confirming the ability to safely store hydrogen—a process that must adhere to standards akin to those governing natural gas storage, a practice with a 70-year track record of safety.
Upon the successful completion of these test cycles, the stored hydrogen will be extracted and meticulously analyzed to guarantee its quality.
Looking ahead, 2024 heralds a shift in scale. Hydrogen production and storage will gradually escalate until the salt cavern reaches its full capacity by 2026—approximately 50 tonnes, equivalent to the daily consumption of 2,000 buses. This monumental achievement will enable the supply of hydrogen to industrial players and service stations in the region, fostering the growth of the hydrogen industry.
In the medium term, a hydrogen pipeline is envisioned to connect Etrez to production and consumption sites, providing essential infrastructure to support the industry’s expansion.
As the project advances, additional studies are already underway, focusing on the development of massive hydrogen storage capacities at the Etrez site. Four caverns, located at a depth of 1,300 meters, could potentially store a staggering 6,700 tonnes of hydrogen each, further solidifying the region’s position as a pioneering hub for clean energy storage solutions.