A key element to the potential of hydrogen lies in the enabling of large-scale and long-term energy storage. The largest sources of sustainable electricity, wind and photovoltaic solar, are of course dependant on the amount of wind and sunlight available and if these are available when needed. By converting sustainably produced electrical energy into hydrogen when there is an excess, this energy can be stored and used in periods of shortage. The hydrogen can be stored in a variety of places, including salt caverns as are currently used for natural gas storage.
After the electrical energy has been converted into hydrogen this needs to be transported to storage sites, power generation and customers (both industrial and private). For this purpose transport via pipelines not only offers a safe way of transporting hydrogen, it is also a very cost effective method as the existing natural gas pipeline infrastructure can often be used in two different ways: by mixing the hydrogen into the natural gas flow or by rededicating natural gas pipelines for hydrogen transport. As renewable power generation will often take place in new areas (offshore wind), new pipelines will also be needed of a size larger and used under different circumstances than current hydrogen transportation infrastructure.
It is in the area of hydrogen transport via pipelines that EPRG will play a key role: by utilising the combined expertise of the member companies to identify any knowledge gaps and conducting research aimed at filling these gaps. EPRG is currently developing a roadmap to outline the research program of the next years. A white paper will be issued shortly to reflect the concerted view of the member companies to date. It will be further developed in the coming years to reflect the best knowledge available at any given time.