BE-HyStore - UGent and Fluxys explore underground hydrogen storage

(24-10-2023) Today's launch event at Fluxys highlights Belgium’s commitment to innovative solutions for a cleaner, more sustainable energy future.

UGent and Fluxys will explore the potential of underground hydrogen storage at a depth of 1000m in Loenhout, in the Antwerp Kempen region. At the same site, Fluxys, the Belgian gas network operator, already uses an underground porous rock layer for natural gas storage. This storage facility  offers the possibility to receive and store natural gas during summer, to absorb peaks in gas consumption during the winter.

To better understand the potential hurdles in the underground storage of hydrogen at the Fluxys site in Loenhout, scientists from UGent (Prof. Tom Bultreys - Department of Geology, Prof. Joris Thybaut - Department of Materials, Textiles and Chemical Process Engineering and Prof. Nico Boon – Center of Microbial Ecology and Technology) have teamed up with Fluxys with the support of the Belgian federal government for the project ‘BE-HyStore’. The goal is to convert the existing underground storage for natural gas into one for hydrogen. When operational, this can deliver a crucial contribution to Belgium’s transition to an efficient, flexible, CO2-neutral energy system. The project will particularly focus on the mobility and stability of hydrogen gas in the storage rock layer (prof. Bultreys), the natural microbial processes that H2 may trigger there (prof. Boon), and the gas stream treatment before sending it to the national grid (prof. Thybaut).

BE-HyStore - UGent and Fluxys explore underground hydrogen storage

The involvement of UGent in the BE-HyStore project underscores its commitment to cutting-edge research and innovation in the field of sustainable energy and hydrogen storage. UGent's contributions demonstrate the potential of combining academic research and real-world application to address pressing environmental challenges.

The federal government has allocated 833,336.31 EUR for this project, coming from the Energy Transition Fund, financed through the fee paid by Engie to keep the Doel 1 and 2 nuclear power plants running for 10 more years until 2025. The total budget of the BE-HyStore project amounts to 1,137,882.34 EUR.

"We are delighted to continue the long-standing cooperation between Fluxys and Ghent University on hydrogen research through the BE-HyStore project, supported by the federal government. This new project allows us to bridge the gap between academia and industrial applications. We are proud to be at the forefront of pioneering underground hydrogen storage research, which has the potential to revolutionize the way we store renewable energy." - Louis Sileghem, Hydrogen Platform Manager UGent

BE-HyStore is a crucial and urgently needed step in the implementation of the hydrogen strategy of the Belgian federal government, particularly with respect to energy security and flexibility. The hydrogen strategy indicates that it will be key to have large-scale H2 storage capabilities. Storage plays an important role in energy security, as green hydrogen will have to be imported from locations with cheap renewable energy. BE-HyStore will identify and alleviate potential barriers to the conversion of this infrastructure into a key part of the Belgian energy system and hydrogen economy.

"Hydrogen is essential to green our heavy industry and meet our climate goals. As with offshore wind, we are making Belgium a leader in green hydrogen: a few months ago with the construction of the first hydrogen pipelines and today with hydrogen storage in Loenhout. A pioneering concept resulting from a research project supported by the Energy Transition Fund. Our energy strategy aims to take control of our energy future through renewable energy and accelerate our energy independence. We are paving the way to a sustainable and climate-neutral future for our country." - Tinne Van der Straeten, Federal Minister of Energy

Stay tuned for further updates to the BE-HyStore project as it continues to make strides in the realm of sustainable energy and hydrogen storage technology.

Energy Transition Fund