Energy storage

To have sufficient energy available to accommodate the daily and seasonal fluctuations of our country’s energy demand, it is important to have a strategic energy reserve. GDN is investigating how, and with which technologies, the deep subsurface can be used to store energy. This can be in the form of a compressed gas or as hot water.

We are increasingly using fluctuating sources like the wind and sun for our energy supply. The closure of the Groningen field and sharply declining production of natural gas from other fields have also made us more dependent on other countries for natural gas.

Using gas fields and salt caverns for storage

Subsurface energy storage can help make the energy transition in the Netherlands possible. Depleted gas fields at a depth of 2 to 3 km and salt caverns at a depth of 1 to 1.5 km are well suited for the storage of renewable energy. They are filled with hydrogen or natural gas that has been compressed using sustainably produced electricity. GDN is an expert in the field of (energy) storage in the deep subsurface. In collaboration with public authorities and the private sector, we are working on innovations while gathering increasingly detailed knowledge.

Clarification: Illustration of the two technology concepts for underground hydrogen storage: in salt caverns (left) or in empty gas fields (right).
Illustration of two technology concepts for underground hydrogen storage: in salt caverns (left) or in empty gas fields (right).

Storing natural gas and hydrogen in the deep subsurface

The underground storage of imported natural gas is making it possible to have this energy source available to the Dutch market in strategic stocks, as a sustainable alternative to more polluting energy sources such as coal and oil. In a few decades’ time, hydrogen may become the sustainable replacement for natural gas in our energy system; hydrogen can be chemically produced through electrolysis using solar and wind energy and does not release carbon dioxide when combusted. To enable the large-scale, long-term use of hydrogen, GDN is already studying the underground storage of hydrogen.

Compressed air storage makes energy systems flexible

Solar and wind energy can also be converted and stored by using the energy to compress air. GDN is investigating the possibility of safely storing compressed air in salt caverns. The large-scale use of compressed air would enable a flexible energy supply for our varying daily needs. Our research focuses on the technology, the possibilities present in the Dutch subsurface, and the safe application of this form of underground storage.

Shallow heat storage

Geothermal energy is making the large-scale, sustainable heating of buildings possible. In the Netherlands, an increasing number of geothermal energy systems are being developed. These systems will pump up hot groundwater from a depth of several thousand metres. As geothermal wells are constantly operational (both day and night, as well as all year round), it is important to be able to store heat that is not immediately being used in summer in other (shallower) water-bearing rock layers in the ground. Solar and wind energy could also be stored in this way in the form of hot water. GDN is developing some of the technologies to ensure the safe storage of hot water. Our expertise lies mainly in improving the relatively weak link between above-ground and underground systems.

Underground pumped storage

In addition to the forms of underground energy storage that GDN is investigating, external parties in mountainous regions are working extensively on another form of underground energy storage: pumped storage.

Interested in more information? Contact Remco Groenenberg via the blue ‘mail directly’ button below.

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