German utility plans first hydrogen storage cavern

RWE diagram of the planned hydrogen storage site at Kottiger Hook
RWE diagram of the planned hydrogen storage site at Kottiger Hook
German utility RWE is requesting planning permission to build the country’s first hydrogen cavern storage facility in a salt mine.

RWE Gas Storage West submitted its general operating plan, including an environmental impact assessment, to the government of Arnsberg, a district in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

If approved, the cavern will be built at RWE’s site at Kottiger Hook, near the border with the Netherlands. A meeting of local stakeholders will be held in the nearby village of Epe on 28 March.

Epe is a centre of salt mining, and RWE uses old salt workings to store natural gas at a depth of up to 1.5km. One of these brine-filled natural gas caverns will be repurposed to hold hydrogen.

The first stage of construction will be able to hold up to 28 million cubic metres of hydrogen. The work will involve installing plant to inject and retrieve the gas, as well as pipelines.

RWE is hoping to begin supplying hydrogen in 2027, and to do so with funding from the EU’s Important Projects of Common European Interest scheme. If this is successful, it may trigger additional funds from the Federal Ministry of Economics and Climate Protection and the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

If for any reason it fails in its bid for EU money, the project may not go ahead as planned.

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