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Underground storage HRS


The objective of the topic is to design, certify, build and operate for at least 6 months a hydrogen retail station with underground storage of hydrogen, whereby:

  • The usable amount of hydrogen stored underground is at least 150 kg with a system volume of maximum 0.14 m3/kg;
  • The pressure of the hydrogen released from the underground storage system is ~ 30 bar;
  • The system is designed to be refilled from a compressed hydrogen trailer in less than an hour or from an on-site hydrogen generator;
  • The system can be installed similarly to underground gasoline tanks, without the need for significant (concrete) construction (ideally gasoline tanks should be replaced with hydrogen containing tanks without further need for fortification);
  • The space above the storage can to a large extent be used for activities necessary on a forecourt (e.g. placement of the hydrogen dispensing equipment, high pressure storage, roads and car parking);
  • No additional equipment needs to be installed above ground to store or process the hydrogen (apart from normal hydrogen station operations);
  • The cost of the buffer storage system should be below 750 EUR/kg usable hydrogen and the installation cost below 250 EUR/kg;
  • The lifetime of the system should be at least 20 years, assuming it is refilled from minimum to maximum (or ‘empty to full’) three times a week.

The hydrogen storage facility should be integrated into a multi-fuel refueling station that dispenses gasoline, diesel, and preferably also LPG and/or CNG to ensure realistic conditions for the safety assessment, certifications and regular inspections. The underground storage may be installed at an existing, planned or new HRS site.

The scope should also include developing recommended procedures for safety assessment and permitting process steps, including co-location of hydrogen storage with other liquid and gaseous fuels. Associated learnings should be documented as case study examples for typical site layouts, as well as for the specific implementation site. The resulting procedures should be made publicly available. Similarly, solutions relevant to the underground storage developed during the project should also be made publicly available, including drawings pictures and/or videos.

The demonstration site should include a minimum of one hydrogen dispenser capable of refueling 350 and 700 bar FCEV. All relevant hydrogen equipment closely associated with the underground storage facility are eligible (e.g. storage vessels, sensors, pipework, civil works, modification costs, planning and permitting costs), while the other components of the station (e.g. dispenser, high pressure storage, compressor or electrolyser) are not eligible costs for the project. “CertifHy Green H2“ guarantees of origin should be used through the CertifHy platform to ensure that the hydrogen dispensed is of renewable nature.

TRL at start: 6 and TRL at end: 8.

Any safety-related event that may occur during execution of the project shall be reported to the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) dedicated mailbox JRC-PTT-H2SAFETY@ec.europa.eu, which manages the European hydrogen safety reference database, HIAD and the Hydrogen Event and Lessons LEarNed database, HELLEN.

Test activities should collaborate and use the protocols developed by the JRC Harmonisation Roadmap (see section 3.2.B ""Collaboration with JRC – Rolling Plan 2019""), in order to benchmark performance of components and allow for comparison across different projects.

The FCH 2 JU considers that proposals requesting a contribution of EUR 1.5 million would allow the specific challenges to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

A maximum of 1 project may be funded under this topic.

Expected duration: 3 years.

Two main barriers to the successful rollout of hydrogen retail infrastructure are still the high cost and the large footprint of hydrogen equipment. In particular, in urban environments, the space available at retail stations is often too small to add hydrogen refueling technology. The problem might become soon a large impediment once hydrogen has been added to the few available spacious sites in a region and only compact sites remain.

Improved station design has also reduced the space needed for hydrogen equipment, making the storage the largest component on hydrogen stations. Storage of conventional fuels, like gasoline, is usually underground, leaving space on the surface for the other components. The development of low-cost, underground storage concepts for compressed gaseous hydrogen is therefore required to enable rollout of a hydrogen refueling network dense enough to meet customer requirements in the 2020’s.

The project should become a blueprint for the further rollout of underground hydrogen storage at retail stations. It is therefore expected to:

  • Demonstrate that underground storage of hydrogen is feasible (regarding safety and permitting) and practical (regarding space requirement, lifetime and full cost);
  • Provide a framework for safety assessment and permitting of future hydrogen stations with underground storage;
  • Make recommendations as to how such hydrogen stations can be incorporated into harmonised EU standards;
  • Identify how the hydrogen refueling infrastructure across the EU can be expanded via the demonstrated approach compared with not having underground hydrogen tanks;
  • Provide ample publicly available material for use in future projects.

Type of action: Innovation Action

The conditions related to this topic are provided in the chapter 3.3 and in the General Annexes to the Horizon 2020 Work Programme 2018– 2020 which apply mutatis mutandis.