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Cushion Gas in Hydrogen Storage—A Costly CAPEX or a Valuable Resource for Energy Crises?


The geological storage of hydrogen is a seasonal energy storage solution, and the storage capacity of saline aquifers is most appropriately defined by quantifying the amount of hydrogen that can be injected and reproduced over a relevant time period. Cushion gas, stored in the reservoir to support the production of the working gas, is a CAPEX, which should be reduced to decrease implementation cost for gas storage. The cushion gas to working gas ratio provides a sufficiently accurate reflection of the storage efficiency, with higher ratios equating to larger initial investments. This paper investigates how technical measures, such as well configurations and adjustments to the operational size and schedule, can reduce this ratio, and the outcomes can inform optimisation strategies for hydrogen storage operations. Using a simplified open saline aquifer reservoir model, hydrogen storage is simulated with a single injection and production well. The results show that the injection process is more sensitive to technical measures than the production process; a shorter perforation and a smaller well diameter increases the required cushion gas for the injection process but has little impact on the production. If the storage operation capacity is expanded, and the working gas volume increased, the required cushion gas to working gas ratio increases for injection, reducing the efficiency of the injection process. When the reservoir pressure has more time to equilibrate, less cushion gas is required. It is shown that cushion gas plays an important role in storage operations and that the tested optimisation strategies impart only minor effects on the production process, however, there is significant need for careful optimisation of the injection process. It is suggested that the recoverable part of the cushion gas could be seen as a strategic gas reserve, which can be produced during an energy crisis. In this scenario, the recoverable cushion gas could be owned by the state, and the upfront costs for gas storage to the operator would be reduced, making the implementation of more gas storage and the onset of hydrogen storage more attractive to investors.

Funding source: T.E.M.T., A.H., S.H. and M.W. are funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) funded research project “HyStorPor” (grant number EP/S027815/1). Heinemann and Edlmann are supported by funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) [Grant Number EP/S027815/1] (HyStorPor Project) and by funding from the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen 2 Joint Undertaking (now Clean Hydrogen Partnership) under grant agreement No 101006632. This Joint Undertaking receives support from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, Hydrogen Europe and Hydrogen Europe Research.
Countries: United Kingdom

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