Construction of the first green hydrogen storage demonstrator in a salt cavern is underway in France.
Officially launched in January 2021, the Hydrogen Pilot Storage for Large Ecosystem Replication (HyPSTER) aims to use salt cavern storage to connect hydrogen injection by electrolysis to industrial and mobility uses. It will also test the technical and economic reproducibility of the process to other sites throughout Europe.
ENGIE subsidiary Storengy is coordinating the project and will manage and operate the storage site and the salt cavern for testing. ENGIE is one of the founding members of the Hydrogen Council.
Located in Etrez, between Geneva and Lyon, the storage site is the largest French natural gas storage site in salt caverns in terms of capacity. The project will contribute to the French regional hydrogen strategy, along with other significant projects, by making possible the development of a local hydrogen hub to reduce atmospheric and noise pollution, thanks to a transition towards hydrogen mobility and on the other hand, to decarbonise other local uses.
Contracted surface and underground equipment
Several partners have supplied the necessary equipment for the construction phase: a 1MW PEM electrolyser (Elogen), a compressor for the production platform and dispensing solutions (Howden), completion elements (Schlumberger), tube trailers for transporting the hydrogen between H2 platform and the salt cavern.
A memorandum of understanding with TechnipFMC has recently been signed for the development of a hydrogen wellhead in the framework of a technological partnership.
In addition, Schneider Electric will provide its expertise in electricity, instrumentation, automation solutions for an optimised asset management system, thanks to a strategic partnership.
Installation of the electrolysis unit and conversion of the storage facilities
The equipment for the electrolysis units, designed to split the water molecule into hydrogen and oxygen, are under construction by the different manufacturers. Storengy started construction of the platform in July 2022. It will be followed by the conversion of the salt cavern, which until now has been used for R&D projects for natural gas underground storage.
The first hydrogen bubbles will be produced when the surface installations start up, which should take place in March 2023; the cycling tests will take place between May and December 2023.
HyPSTER is supported by the Clean Hydrogen Partnership, the successor to the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (FCH JU). With a total budget of €13 million, it aims to better identify the position of storage in the hydrogen value chain, and in the long term, to support the development of the hydrogen sector in Europe.
Image: © ENGIE