Underground Hydrogen Storage in Australia Project
One of the major challenges in the energy transition is the need for energy storage on a large scale, and hydrogen has the potential to play a significant role here. For example, excess electrical power from renewables can be converted into hydrogen via electrolysis, and then later used directly as a fuel, or converted back into electricity. If hydrogen is added to the natural gas network, then there will likewise be a need for storage to balance seasonal fluctuations in supply and demand, as already occurs with natural gas. Hydrogen produced for export (whether from renewables or hydrocarbons) will also require storage to balance the frequency of shipping schedules.
For hydrogen storage at a scale of hundreds of tonnes or more, underground storage is the leading option for reasons of safety and cost. International experience has mostly been with the storage of hydrogen in engineered caverns created in thick salt deposits, but there has also been storage of hydrogen-rich gas mixtures in porous underground formations, such as depleted gas fields. The availability of suitable salt deposits in Australia looks to be very limited geographically, and so there is a need to identify other options for underground hydrogen storage that match the most prospective areas for hydrogen production.
This project aims to review the literature on underground hydrogen storage, and develop a methodology for assessing the suitability of sites for such storage in Australia. This methodology is then applied first to Victoria, as a pilot case, and then across the whole of Australia. The assessment is on the scale of sedimentary basins e.g. estimating the overall capacity for underground hydrogen storage in certain areas, rather than recommending particular sites.
The project is also developing capability for numerical modelling of underground hydrogen storage, using the PorousFlow module that CSIRO has developed for the MOOSE simulation platform. One of the vital components is the accurate representation of the properties of gas mixtures with hydrogen , and their interaction with saline formation water. This code will then be applied to model scenarios for underground hydrogen storage, and draw conclusions about the efficiency of the storage process and the opportunities to optimize it.
The initial literature review and methodology has been completed, and the application to Victoria is being finalised. The completion of the assessment for the whole of Australia is due in March. The capability development of the software is complete, and the application of this to modelling relevant scenarios is now beginning.
For more information, please contact Dr Jonathan Ennis-King