Australia’s massive opportunity for underground hydrogen storage

New research has identified Australia’s underground hydrogen storage capacity at potentially over 300 million tonnes (38,000 PJ), up to sixty times what a fully developed Australian domestic and export hydrogen industry could need to buffer fluctuations in supply and demand.

As Australia adopts hydrogen as a widespread energy carrier, storage options will be needed for both domestic use and for export. Future Fuels CRC’s latest research maps out the high-level availability of potential sites in Australia and discusses requirements for selecting suitable storage sites that match hydrogen production needs. This latest research report is now available to download in full.

Australia’s sub-surface is potentially capable of storing over 300 million tonnes of hydrogen (38,000 PJ) in salt caverns, depleted hydrocarbon reservoirs, aquifers and engineered caverns, each with their own advantages and constraints. A fully developed domestic and export hydrogen industry could require 5 million tonnes of storage (600 PJ), so only a small proportion of Australia’s sub-surface capacity would be required. This research estimates the scale of the potential underground storage capacity for hydrogen in sites that are broadly suitable. It focuses on prospective storage capacity and how this compares to potential hydrogen utilisation in each region.

Once the scale of storage at a site exceeds tens of tonnes, underground hydrogen storage is the cheapest and safest large-scale storage option for industrial-sized purposes. Although underground hydrogen storage is already used globally to support existing industrial uses of hydrogen, it is highly dependent on the suitability of local rock formations. This research looks beneath Australia’s surface to identify the opportunities under our land and waters.

State and federal governments and agencies can use this research to support more detailed development of storage options, and to develop legislative and regulatory frameworks that will enable future projects to proceed. Industry involved in the production and transport of hydrogen can scope out underground hydrogen storage options that are relevant to their needs and locations. And researchers can build upon the high-level assessments to investigate site-specific needs for underground hydrogen storage.

The research was authored by Dr Jonathan Ennis-King lead researcher at CSIRO, Australia’s National Science Agency and team, and completed in concert with CSIRO’s Hydrogen Industry Mission.

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