UK needs 60-100TWh of hydrogen storage by 2050, salt caverns recommended – report

Gary Hornby


LONDON (ICIS)–A report from the UK’s Royal Society published 8 September said that the UK requires needs as much as 100TWh of storage capacity by 2050 to manage periods of low renewable generation, with hydrogen storage in salt caverns the preferred option for storage.

The report states that the UK could have as much as 200GW of renewable capacity available in the form of wind and solar, but this generation mix must be backed up by large-scale storage if renewable output is below demand expectations.

The report said that “meeting the need for long-duration storage will require very low cost per unit energy stored. In [the UK], the leading candidate is storage of hydrogen in solution-mined salt caverns.”

In its medium scenario (UK power demand of 570TWh/year by 2050) between 60TWh and 100TWh of hydrogen storage in salt caverns would be required, much less that the theoretical maximum capacity of around 3,000TWh, according to the British Geological Survey.


The report said that this would require up to 90 clusters of 10 caverns.

The UK has salt caverns available for hydrogen storage, with the onshore locations in the northwest (Cheshire Basin), the northeast (East Yorkshire), and the south coast (Wessex Basin).

Indeed, the British Geological Survey said that salt cavern hydrogen storage potential in East Yorkshire alone is larger than the 100TWh maximum required.

A fall-back option, the report said, would be ammonia but this option would be “significantly more expensive.”

The report encourages the UK government to act quickly over the storage requirement, with salt caverns typically taking between 9-11 years to be ready for use in storing hydrogen.

The Royal Society said in the report that “on a TWh scale, the cost of storing hydrogen in solution-mined salt caverns is an order of magnitude less that the cost of storage in high pressure tanks or as a liquid.”

However, the cost of storing hydrogen in salt caverns would depend on the geology of the salt cavern, brine disposal options, size, pressure, and costs of over ground equipment required for operation.


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