For the hydrogen economy to succeed, it needs a compatible infrastructure to provide storage and transport.
Hydrogen offers the possibility of storing the volatile energy generated from sun and wind. When there are strong winds or the sun is shining brightly, H2 can be produced by electrolysis and the energy stored in the form of this chemical element. It can be assumed that very large quantities of hydrogen will be needed in the future, both in industry and in the transport and energy sectors. A powerful and robust infrastructure is needed to secure this supply, in terms of both transporting and storing the gas.
There are various options for storing hydrogen efficiently. In its pure form, as the H2 molecule, it can be stored and transported under high pressure in the form of gas or in liquid form at ambient pressure and extremely low (cryogenic) temperatures of minus 253 degrees Celsius or colder. The fluid product has a higher density and thus a higher calorific value per unit of volume. It therefore needs less room for storage, which makes transport more efficient and can to some extent offset the energy costs of cooling the product.
Storage facilities with high capacities are needed to be able to meet the huge demand for green hydrogen expected in the future flexibly. This could include storage in subterannean cavities such as caverns or porous underground facilities, which have already been tried and tested for storing natural gas. Irrespective of the occurrence of such cavities, storage is possible in pipeline facilities, though these can only accommodate considerably smaller quantities.
Apart from efficient storage facilities in sufficient numbers, high-performance transport routes are also essential to develop a large-scale infrastructure. Key consumption points must be connected to the large-scale electrolysis sites and storage facilities by pipelines. Since many industrial consumers need pure hydrogen, new pipelines must be constructed in some cases and the existing gas network converted to carry hydrogen. Transport by rail, road and waterways is also possible – under high pressure, in liquid or chemically-bound form, for example by means of methanol, ammonia or liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LOHC). The sites will, however, be reliant on connectivity to a hydrogen pipeline network in order to meet the significant industrial demand economically in the long-term.
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