Vallourec® New Energies strategy provides lift-off for hydrogen storage projects across Europe

By September 7, 2023 6   min read  (1141 words)

September 7, 2023 |

German Hydrogen Hubs 1

As the world embarks on a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, hydrogen has emerged as a crucial component of the clean energy mix.

As the world embarks on a transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, hydrogen has emerged as a crucial component of the clean energy mix. Storage of hydrogen is a pivotal component of a stable and reliable energy supply and will rely especially on vast underground caverns. On the European landscape, Vallourec is playing a major role in almost every salt cavern hydrogen storage project as part of its Vallourec® New Energies strategy.

The rise of hydrogen energy is fueled by its diverse applications across various sectors, making it a pivotal player in the global pursuit of decarbonization. Serving as a versatile solution when finding utility in industrial processes, transportation, and energy storage, hydrogen presents unparalleled potential to reshape the energy landscape.

More than 50 countries are now implementing hydrogen strategies, this is a great indicator of the global importance of hydrogen. We estimate that the global hydrogen market today is around €150 billion, and that’s going to rise significantly in the near term.

Vincent DesignolleHydrogen Director at Vallourec® New Energies

Despite this positive outlook, the current challenge lies in the fact that less than 5% of today’s hydrogen can be considered clean and low-carbon. “One of the low-hanging fruits in this battle is replacing gray hydrogen with green or low-carbon alternatives,” Vincent says. “It’s an area that our teams at Vallourec have focused our attention on.”

Where to store all that hydrogen?

As hydrogen energy is increasingly produced cleanly, the question arises: where to store it all? “Hydrogen storage is of the utmost importance,” Vincent says. “When you look at natural gas, already 10-15% goes through underground facilities. It could be even more with hydrogen, considering variabilities in production by electrolysis, but even taking lower assumptions imply very large storage needs! This is where we come in.”

With numerous projects now emerging to meet the rise of hydrogen, the development of storage solutions for salt caverns, as well as the mastery of technical challenges, is crucial.

Hydrogen storage poses unique challenges, these are primarily related to leakage risks and material compatibility. Given the element’s small molecular size, hydrogen is more prone to leaking compared to other gases.

Justine BernardHydrogen Storage Technical Manager for Vallourec

Another complexity is that steel, commonly used in traditional energy applications, can be susceptible to embrittlement when in contact with hydrogen.

To overcome these challenges, Vallourec leverages both its deep expertise in metallurgy and its rigorous R&D testing of steel grades to withstand exposure to the element. The result: the validation of specialized materials and connections tailored explicitly for hydrogen environments.

Leading the way in tubular solutions for hydrogen projects in Europe

Adhering to the highest industry standards, Vallourec’s products and expertise have been trusted for projects all across Europe.

Adhering to the highest industry standards Vallourecs products and expertise have been trusted for projects all across Europe.

Storengy partnership: Collaborating with Storengy, Vallourec delivered its VM80S tubular solutions along with VAM® 21 premium connections for the production string (conveying hydrogen between the cavern and the surface) of HyPSTER project, the first-ever hydrogen storage project supported by the EU. After the pipes were installed earlier this year, the project will soon be in operation to showcase first-class green hydrogen storage salt caverns situated in Etrez, France.

HyCAVmobil project: EWE’s HyCAVmobil project is intended to be the first practical implementation of a hydrogen cavern test in Germany, with aim to evaluate hydrogen quality after storage as well as technical and ecological aspects of the integration of a hydrogen cavern in the future energy system. The construction of the test cavern was finalized earlier this year. After ongoing construction of all surface facilities, first fill with hydrogen and testing plan are expected to start soon. The first step in the construction of the cavity involved EWE erecting a drilling rig on top of the existing borehole for which Vallourec supplied the casing, after which EWE flushed out the salt dome 1,000 meters underground with water.

Gasunie HyStock project: Last year, Vallourec successfully delivered and installed VM80S pipes and VAM® 21 premium connections for a test borehole in the northern Netherlands. The nine-month project involved cycling hydrogen gas at different pressures to showcase the reality of Vallourec’s steel grades and VAM® 21 connections in real-world conditions, confirming with solid field record great performance of materials and connections. Now, Vallourec’s R&D teams are performing tests on the pipes to gain more knowledge on long-term effects.

Uniper H2 pilot cavern project: Due to begin later this year, Vallourec is set to supply pipes in its weldable grade VM80W, some of which incorporate VAM® 21 premium connections. The project is taking place in Krummhorn, Germany in the Ems estuary of the North Sea. The aim is to test the construction and operation of a 100% hydrogen storage facility, with the ultimate goal of developing a storage solution for green hydrogen on a commercial scale.

Vallourec® New Energies provides roadmap to hydrogen development

Vallourec is committed to support the development of underground storage projects, being repurposing of salt caverns, the creation of new caverns where, Vallourec is already supplying tubing used for the leaching and debrining operations during construction of a new salt cavern, or even new storages in porous media like aquifers and depleted fields.

We are ready for the numerous upcoming hydrogen storage projects across Europe, as well as in other regions of the world. Leveraging our tested and proven products, we are proud to be at the forefront of this crucial energy transition to decarbonization. We are also bringing this expertise to the development of our vertical storage solution, which uses similar technology to provide safe and compact solutions for onsite storage for hydrogen producers and users.

Vincent DesignolleHydrogen Director at Vallourec® New Energies

To fortify its commitment, the Group unveiled Vallourec® New Energies, a new strategic outlook and roadmap to best support collaboration across all renewable energy projects. This strategy fosters the development of Vallourec’s cutting-edge solutions for hydrogen, carbon capture and geothermal energy, while streamlining the tender process for prospective renewable energy ventures. Hydrogen storage thus plays a major role in Vallourec’s strategy for the future of the energy transition.

Looking beyond Europe

Vallourec’s unwavering dedication to industry leading hydrogen storage solutions solidifies its leadership in this transformative industry, particularly across Europe. As other markets, like the US and South America, begin to catch up, Vallourec’s experts are ready to offer their expertise, particularly in the evolving landscape where demands for distributed local storages and vertical solutions are growing.

With hydrogen assuming its rightful place in the global energy landscape, Vallourec remains committed to pioneering cleaner and more sustainable solutions, contributing to the collective goal of a greener future.



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