Hydrogen Energy Storage is Key to a Sustainable Future

October 21, 2021

Hydrogen Energy Storage is the Key to a Sustainable Future

Energy storage is the capture of energy produced at one time for use later when it is needed. Look around your everyday surroundings, do you think about how energy might be stored or how that benefits your life? Energy storage is important to the global energy picture, and it is time to think about the abundance of free energy, and how we can store it – and “un-store” it – as needed. For the Earth to have a chance at a sustainable future, hydrogen energy storage is the key.

Hydrogen is the flexible energy carrier that can be produced from various sources and offers multiple opportunities for storing massive amounts of energy. If geographic features are available, one of the options for large-scale hydrogen storage is salt caverns which have been used for natural gas storage for years. Hydrogen gas is compressed and injected via wells into subsurface caverns formation and then extracted back from the formation via the wells when required.  This approach is being developed for large-scale use in the U.S. and other countries across the world.  This allows for hydrogen to be stored for use later.

But the primary way to store massive amounts of hydrogen is by refrigerating it to make it denser. Cryogenic engineering processes make it possible to increase the density almost 1000X! What does the art of cryogenics have to do with energy and storage? In short, cryogenics and energy are like two sides of the same coin. Cryogenics and energy are inseparably linked! As we make significant advances in renewables, how do we store all that renewable energy? The answer is converting the renewable energy into hydrogen and then liquefying that hydrogen for distribution and use where needed and as needed. In terms of energy storage potential, one truck of liquid hydrogen is equivalent to an acre or more of batteries. Energy storage by cryogenics is the primary pathway for large-scale energy storage while batteries will remain useful for smaller items. The cryogenic hydrogen energy storage approach provides the possibility for truly meeting the global need for matching up the highly variable supply of renewable energy with user demands. Even remote and island communities can build renewable microgrids and store LH2 for long-term usage at any scale.

Imagine being able to buy a bucket of one megawatt-hours (MW-h) source of liquid hydrogen. Use what you need and save the rest for later. Liquid hydrogen (LH2), or other high density cryogenic hydrogen storage technologies (those that are cryo-compressed or cryoadsorbed), comes the closest to making that notion a reality as an electricity source and LH2 as stored electrical energy. For the scale-up to high power applications or the storage of massive quantities of energy, connecting LH2 storage to the direct generation of clean electrical power is the leading candidate for a sustainable future.

With a growing commitment to 100% carbon-free power, pathways to ensure large-scale capacity storage are critical to ensuring success to the global cleaner energy economy. The LH2 storage energy approach is providing the foundation for the clean energy future. The global Hydrogen community is addressing hydrogen energy storage and companies like GenH2 are investing in infrastructure solutions for hydrogen liquefaction, storage, and distribution.

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