Webinar Weighs Hydrogen Storage Opportunities and Challenges

Webinar Weighs Hydrogen Storage Opportunities and Challenges

The push for alternative energy solutions is more evident than ever. Many traditional exploration and production companies continue to diversify portfolios and embrace viable methods of energy production in addition to fossil fuel use. While the options might seem endless with wind and solar monopolizing popularity, many companies are looking at feasibility and integration factors. As a result, hydrogen is gaining more ground as a viable and realistic method to clean energy alternatives, and with the economic opportunities come challenges.

While hydrogen offers an avenue for planetary preservation, it also provides significant economic opportunity, especially regarding storage ability. RENMAD Events recently hosted a webinar, “Unleashing the Hydrogen Storage Opportunity: The Key to Hydrogen Competitiveness,” and analyzed those potential opportunities while also identifying the challenges that seek to derail its progress.

According to David Bentley, CEO of Ardent Underground Hydrogen Storage and webinar moderator, the supply is intermittent no matter how much hydrogen is utilized. As a result, storage is needed to meet the continual demand.

“If we’re going to make green hydrogen, then you’re going to have to store it,” said Bentley. “To achieve the transition to a green hydrogen economy, a safe, low cost, large scale, replaceable storage technology is needed.”

Storing hydrogen materializes from one of two methodologies. Material-based storage potential surfaces from physisorption and chemisorption. In physisorption, the electronic structure of the atom or molecule is perturbed at a minimal rate during adsorption. In chemisorption, the electronic structure of bonding atoms or molecules is altered to allow the hydrogen in and out of the storage medium.

The physical-based category of hydrogen storage allows the hydrogen structure to remain unchanged. However, more can be stored within the medium selected by compressing hydrogen. Compressed hydrogen storage can occur at multiple levels. Bentley indicated that tube trailers, bottles, and storage tanks typically offer up to ten tons of storage. In comparison, specific mining practicalities and salt cave usage can provide up to one thousand tons in storage capacity.

After determining which storage category provides the desired results, Bentley said the design must be considered. Underground storage has seen impressive results as the leading cause of incidents plaguing hydrogen storage comes from impact. Underground storage removes that potential from the equation.

Human error potential significantly decreases because the handling exposure and failure to follow procedure decreases. If storage is rendered underground, human interaction with the equipment is reduced considerably. Although exclusion zones are often established in hydrogen storage facilities, they are frequently infiltrated due to complacency and fundamental human error. Underground storage opportunities avoid that exposure.

While participating as an additional moderator during the webinar, Sean Niknezhad, Postdoctoral Associate at Energy Systems of Texas A&M Energy Institute, identified the potential to reduce storage costs.

“We can reduce storage costs by the ways we produce hydrogen,” said Niknezhad. “We can convert natural gas to hydrogen through fast processes at ambient pressures.”

Variation in storage business models offers potential for profitability. Niknezhad suggested that not only does the sale of stored hydrogen serve as an income stream, but the fees associated with storage service do as well. In addition to transport and delivery services, potential business opportunities can also be identified in grid balance and energy arbitrage.

Capacity leasing and maintenance services are additional areas offering economic opportunity within the hydrogen storage sector. While construction and project development might seem like the primary locations of opportunity, the regulatory side offers its own chance at significant revenue, such as government grants and incentives. Certification and trading of green attributes bring additional opportunities for profitability within the hydrogen storage sector.

The production of hydrogen resembles the path of fossil fuels simply in diversity or multiplicity of revenue opportunities. The sector is ripe for the picking, with potential investors needing to identify their strong points and harness that ability to extract profits. While some might find profitability on the construction side, others might set their sights on service capabilities. Others who work in governmental affairs can see an entirely different menu regarding economic growth. This diversity in opportunity attracts many investment seekers, making the hydrogen market the next place for energy wildcatters.

Author Profile
Nick Vaccaro
Freelance Writer and Photographer

Nick Vaccaro is a freelance writer and photographer. In addition to providing technical writing services, he is an HSE consultant in the oil and gas industry with twelve years of experience. Vaccaro also contributes to SHALE Oil and Gas Business Magazine, American Oil and Gas Investor, Oil and Gas Investor, Energies Magazine and Louisiana Sportsman Magazine. He has a BA in photojournalism from Loyola University and resides in the New Orleans area. Vaccaro can be reached at 985-966-0957 or nav@vaccarogroupllc.com

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