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U.S. is Building Salt Mines to Store Hydrogen

By November 28, 2020 3   min read  (446 words)

November 28, 2020 |

salt mine hydrogen

The project would initially have enough energy to power 150,000 households for one year and is scheduled to be operational by 2025

Some 130 miles south of Salt Lake City in Utah engineers are working on a giant hole in the ground, a vertical cylinder of salt wider than a half-mile and a mile deep that will serve as a place to store hydrogen and, when it is finished, could become one of the largest renewable energy reservoirs in the world.

The storage facility is part of what’s called the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project and is aimed at helping produce 1,000 megawatts of clean power, partly by putting hydrogen into underground salt caverns.

The project would initially have enough energy to power 150,000 households for one year and is scheduled to be operational by 2025. It is being managed by Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), a maker of gas turbines, and Magnum Development, which owns salt caverns for liquid fuel storage.

The first phase of the ACES project will provide 150,000 MWh of renewable power storage capacity, nearly 150 times the entire U.S. installed lithium-ion battery storage base.

Underground salt caverns cost 10 times less than aboveground tanks and 20 times less than hard rock mines. The Reserve has 60 enormous caverns, typically 200 feet in diameter and 2,500 feet tall, and one “large enough for Chicago’s Willis Tower to fit inside with room to spare.”

The U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve currently has 60 enormous caverns, typically 200 feet in diameter and 2,500 feet tall, and one large enough for Chicago’s Willis Tower to fit inside with room to spare.Having such large-scale renewable energy reserves on tap can accelerate the shift to clean power and can help buttress California’s struggling energy grid which saw its first rolling blackouts in August because the grid was short on energy.

Storing fuel in salt caverns isn’t new, but hydrogen’s growing role in decarbonization has revitalized interest in the concept.

The concept of storing energy sources such as hydrogen in giant underground caves is quickly gaining momentum in Europe, where the European Commission sees the share of hydrogen in Europe’s energy mix rising from under 2% in 2019 to 13-14% by 2050.

“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 big storage capacities,” says Louis Londe, technical director at Geostock, a French company specializing in underground storage.

“Many hydrogen cavern projects for energy storage are blooming in Europe. At present, they are at the design stage. Not surprisingly, the leading countries are those where salt is the most present: Germany, U.K., Ireland, France, Netherlands.”

Source: Tech Report

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