Hydrogen is not Energy Storage yet

Germany’s Federal Government neglects gas storage facilities in its National Hydrogen Strategy. Though the government regards hydrogen as a key storage option for renewable energies, hydrogen itself is not energy storage yet. Only underground gas storage facilities provide the capacity to store large volumes of renewable energy in gas form, the Initiative Erdgasspeicher (INES) points out in a recent position paper.

In a draft version of its National Hydrogen Strategy from February 27, 2020 the Federal Government declares that hydrogen “is an energy storage option that stores renewable energy demand-side-driven and flexibly, and that helps to create an adequate supply of energy consumers.” However, hydrogen is an energy storage solution but merely an energy carrier. Renewable gases like hydrogen or synthetic methane that were produced from renewable electricity, can only be stored large-scale and long-term in gas storage facilities.

In view of that fact a recent study by Bloomberg Renewable Energy Finance concludes that storing large volumes of hydrogen will pose one of the largest challenges for a future hydrogen economy. “Germany’s current and potential gas storage capacities are an important resource”, says Sebastian Bleschke, Managing Director of INES, in reference to the National Hydrogen Strategy that will be passed by the Federal Government within the next weeks. “The government should take gas storage facilities for what they are: a backbone of the energy supply – not only today, but even in a green future.”
Gas storage in Germany sums up to a capacity of more than 270 terawatt hours of natural gas, transmission grids hold about 8 terawatt hours. Transforming this into hydrogen storage capacities we talk about 90 terawatt hours.

Thus, underground gas storage is a key enabler for the energy transition – as it is the only long-term storage solution for renewable energy. Germany’s Federal Assembly (Bundesrat) has already acknowledged this fact in a motion that was passed in June 2019. In its motion the German Federal States (Bundesländer) called upon the Federal Government renew transmission tariffs and levies in such a way that a level playing-field is created on the storage market.

“We ask the regulators to take the Federal Assembly’s appeal seriously and regard gas storage facilities as a strategic chance”, comments Sebastian Bleschke. “We have to look at gas storage as a key infrastructure for the energy transition. In view of the EU’s Green Deal, politics should aim at positioning Germany as Europe’s energy storage powerhouse. Its comprehensive gas storage capacities have a huge potential.”


Read press release in German