Large-scale green hydrogen underground storage demonstrator being built

In France, the first green hydrogen storage demonstrator in a salt cavern is being built.

The Hydrogen Pilot Storage for Large Ecosystem Replication (HyPSTER), which formally unveiled in January 2021, proposes to use salt cavern storage to link hydrogen injection by electrolysis to industrial and transportation purposes. Additionally, it will evaluate if the procedure can be economically and technically repeated at other locations in Europe.

The storage facility and the salt cavern for testing will be managed and run by Storengy, which is also in charge of project coordination. One of the first members of the Hydrogen Council is ENGIE.

The storage facility is the largest French natural gas storage station in salt caverns and is situated in Etrez, halfway between Geneva and Lyon. By enabling the creation of a local hydrogen hub to reduce atmospheric and noise pollution through a shift to hydrogen mobility and, on the other side, to decarbonize other local uses, the project will contribute to the French regional hydrogen plan, along with other key projects.

The necessary machinery for the construction phase has been provided by a number of partners, including a 1MW PEM electrolyser from Elogen, a compressor from Howden for the production platform and dispensing solutions, completion elements from Schlumberger, and tube trailers for moving hydrogen between the H2 platform and the salt cavern.

Recently, a memorandum of understanding was inked for the creation of a hydrogen wellhead as part of a technology alliance with TechnipFMC.

A strategic relationship will also enable Schneider Electric to contribute its experience in electrical, instrumentation, and automation technologies for a better asset management system.

In July 2022, Storengy began work on the platform. The conversion of the salt cavern, which had previously been used for research and development projects for underground natural gas storage, will come next.

The surface installations are expected to start up in March 2023, and the cycle tests will take place between May and December of that same year. At that point, the first hydrogen bubbles will be formed.

The Clean Hydrogen Partnership, which replaced the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking, is a supporter of HyPSTER (FCH JU). It has a total budget of €13 million and aims to assist the long-term growth of the hydrogen industry in Europe as well as better understand the role of storage in the hydrogen value chain.