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About 130 miles south of Salt Lake City, engineers are working on a huge cavity in the ground. It is a geological formation known as Salt dome, a salt column surrounded by layers of sediment and filled with hydrogen, it could become one of the largest reservoirs for renewable energies in the world.
The historical forest fires The devastated California this year has raised concerns about climate change and how we can make our society sustainable. The state plans to get all of its electricity needs from clean, renewable energy by 2045, and Governor Gavin Newsom recently said sales of new gas-powered cars and trucks will do so End by 2035. According to a roadmap approved by the state regulator, California will need nearly 25 gigawatts of new renewable capacity by 2030, including about 8,900 megawatts of storage. The Utah Project could help achieve these goals.
The Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project The aim is to build a storage facility for 1,000 megawatts of clean electricity, including by injecting hydrogen into underground salt caverns. Last year, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), manufacturer of gas turbines, and Magnum Development, owner of salt caverns for the storage of liquid fuels, announced that the project will combine technologies such as renewable hydrogen, solid oxide fuel cells and others Compressed air storage. The storage system would initially have enough energy to supply 150,000 households with electricity for a year. The first phase of the ACES project is expected to be operational by 2025 and provide 150,000 MWh of storage capacity for renewable energy, almost 150 times the lithium-ion battery storage base currently installed in the US, according to MHPS.
The project will also help address a problem in the generation of renewable energy: fossil fuels must be used immediately as there is no storage capacity in the grids, which can mean reduction of renewable energies in times of low demand. Having large reserves of renewable energy can accelerate the transition to clean electricity. If a former vice president Joe Biden If he is elected president next month, he can do up to $ 1.7 trillion over 10 years Measures to promote renewable energies and accelerate the introduction of electric vehicles.
Green hydrogen is hydrogen that is produced with renewable energy and without emissions. With the Renewable energy costs such as solar energy are fallingGreen hydrogen is touted as part of the energy mix that will lead to decarbonization. Applications range from consumer and industrial power supplies to transportation and aerospace. By 2050, the demand for hydrogen in the US could increase from 10 million today to 22 to 41 million tons per year a study released this month by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
A salt mine.
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After decades of false starts, hydrogen technology is around the corner as declining production costs, technological improvements, and a global push towards sustainability converge, according to Bank of America. The company estimates this will generate $ 2.5 trillion in direct sales – or $ 4 trillion if sales of related products like fuel cell vehicles are counted The market potential will reach US $ 11 trillion by 2050.
Big companies like BP, Siemens Energy, Bowl and Air fluid are interested in producing green hydrogen, but part of the challenge is storing energy so it can be ready when needed. A project like ACES can help here.
“California saved between 150,000 and 300,000 MWh of surplus renewable energy per month by the spring of 2020, but saw blackouts for the first time in August due to a tight grid,” said Paul Browning, CEO of MHPS Americas. “Long-term energy storage projects like ours that aim to move excess energy from oversupply periods like California in spring to undersupply periods like California in late summer are critical to ensuring that similar events are avoided as we continue to make significant strides toward a deep one Make decarbonization. “
The storage of fuel in salt caverns is not new, but the growing role of hydrogen in decarbonization has rekindled interest in the concept. The US Strategic Petroleum Reserve has long stored crude oil in an emergency underground salt caves on the Gulf Coastand finds that they cost 10 times less than surface tanks and 20 times less than hard rock mines. The reserve has 60 huge caves with a typical diameter of 200 feet and a height of 2,500 feet. One of them is “big enough to fit the Willis Tower in Chicago”.
Caverns can be created in salt domes by drilling into the salt dome and injecting water into the rock, which dissolves the salt. The resulting saline solution is extracted, leaving a large cavity. The next step is to store hydrogen in the cavern. Hydrogen electrolysers can convert water to hydrogen using renewable energy from solar and other sources. The hydrogen can then be stored and converted back into electricity if necessary.
As part of the ACES project, some will power the adjoining Intermountain Power Project, a Los Angeles Department of Water and Energy coal-fired power plant that converts to hydrogen and natural gas, which produces nearly half the carbon dioxide from coal, by 2025. By In 2045 it will be all about green hydrogen. If the initial phase of the project is successful, the enormous capacity of the salt dome could continue to be used.
“The formation has the potential to create up to 100 caverns, each of which can hold 150,000 MWh of energy,” says Browning. “It would take 40,000 shipping containers with batteries to store that much energy in each cave.”
Despite their storage potential, low operating costs and the fact that the underground salt distribution is known, only a handful of salt caverns have been created to store hydrogen. In Europe, however, the concept is rapidly gaining importance The European Commission sees an increase in the proportion of hydrogen in the European energy mix from under 2% from 2019 to 13-14% by 2050.
Funded by the federal government, the HYPOS alliance A salt cavern with around 150,000 MWh of energy from hydrogen generated by wind power is to be built by over 100 companies and institutions in the central German chemical triangle in Saxony-Anhalt. According to Stefan Bergander, a HYPOS project manager, the supervisory authorities are currently reviewing the plans and when filling begins in 2023 or 2024, this could be the first hydrogen storage cavern in continental Europe. In the meantime, the French gas supplier Teréga and Hydrogène de France have agreed to start the HyGéo pilot project in a disused salt cavern in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of southwest France. It will store around 1.5 GWh of energy, which is enough for 400 households a year.
“Underground storage in salt caverns or in porous media (i.e. in aquifers or in depleted oil and gas fields) is the only way to cope with large storage capacities,” says Louis Londe, technical director at Geostock, a French company that specializes in underground storage. “Many hydrogen cavern energy storage projects are flourishing in Europe. They are currently in the drafting phase. Not surprisingly, the leading countries are where salt is most present: Germany, UK, Ireland, France, the Netherlands.”
Hydrogen can be generated using renewable energy from sources such as solar panels and then stored underground in salt caverns for later use.
Courtesy Geostock / Vinci Construction
Europe has enough salt formations on and off the coast to theoretically store around 85 petawatt hours of hydrogen study published earlier this year in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. The number is hypothetical and does not take economic efficiency into account, but, for example, 1 PWh of hydrogen is enough to cover today’s electricity needs in Germany for a whole year, says Dilara Gulcin Caglayan, lead author of the study and scientist at the Institute for Energy and Climate Research of the German Research Center Jülich.
“Our calculations show that without the implementation of hydrogen salt caverns there is no cost-optimal way to achieve our climate goals,” says the institute’s deputy director, Martin Robinius, co-author of the study. “We will need a lot of hydrogen salt caverns by 2040, but if we don’t start building now, we won’t be able to build them to scale to meet these goals.”
As part of its goal to be carbon neutral by 2050, the European Commission recently developed a hydrogen roadmap stating that the rapid deployment of clean hydrogen on a large scale is key for the European Union to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by at least half “Investing in hydrogen will fuel sustainable growth and jobs, which will be critical in the context of recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.”
“The subject of storage is of course the key to the energy transition, and in this regard hydrogen and hydrogen technologies play a crucial role,” says Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, Secretary General of Hydrogen Europe, an alliance of around 250 companies and research organizations that have called for Covid-19 recovery investment 55 billion euros ($ 65 billion) Salt cavern storage facility by 2030 to build 3 million tons of hydrogen capacity “Large hydrogen storage facilities, mostly salt caverns and possibly some empty gas fields, must be part of the hydrogen infrastructure.”