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First phase of the H2 pilot project "H2CAST Etzel" starts - project initially runs until end 2024


"We want to make the Etzel site in Lower Saxony H2-ready" / Consortium partners of the hydrogen storage initiative around cavern operators STORAG ETZEL and EKB Storage receive funding from the state of Lower Saxony

The corresponding funding notifications were symbolically handed over to the project partners today by Lower Saxony's Environment Minister Olaf Lies in Etzel. The funding scope for research on energy infrastructures and experimental development, SME grants for consulting services and for basic research amounts to a total of eight million euros. The industrial partners STORAG ETZEL, EKB Storage, DEEP.KBB, HARTMANN Valves and SOCON will contribute a multiple volume of funding to the project.

On the part of research institutions, this important project is supported by the Clausthal University of Technology and the Deutsche Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt e.V.” (DLR) – Institute of Networked Energy Systems.

The H2CAST Etzel project
H2CAST Etzel is intended to demonstrate the feasibility of large-volume underground storage of hydrogen and to prove the suitability of the salt caverns in Etzel for hydrogen storage. Operational hydrogen storage operations will be tested and serve to build a hydrogen service industry.

The project in detail
H2CAST Etzel specifically focuses on the adaptation and rededication of existing gas caverns and relevant surface facilities as part of the transition process to an H2 economy in Germany and Europe.
In this context, the Etzel pipeline and network hub in particular offers a wide range of cooperation and funding opportunities for the development of an H2 economy in the Friesland / Ostfriesland / Wilhelmshaven region in northwestern Germany.
Quote from the Ministry of the Environment of Lower saxony
Energy and Environment Minister Olaf Lies: "Hydrogen will be an integral part of the future energy economy. This will not succeed without storage. With H2CAST Etzel, we are promoting a pilot project on an industrial scale. A competent and experienced project consortium from industry and science has come together for this purpose. A special feature is that existing oil and gas caverns in Lower Saxony are to be converted for hydrogen here for the first time. Also, the intended brine shuttle operation has not yet been implemented in this way. The pilot project is the starting point for a possible local value chain. We are creating knowledge that is likely to be in demand elsewhere. With the funding, we are helping to ensure that we will continue to have a secure energy supply in the future, ultimately without oil and natural gas, and maintain local value creation in the energy hub of Lower Saxony."

Quotes from the responsible persons at STORAG ETZEL and EKB Storage
Boris Richter, commercial director of STORAG ETZEL GmbH, is pleased about the forward-looking support from the state of Lower Saxony: "We want to make the Etzel site in Lower Saxony "H2-ready", i.e. prepare it for the foreseeable ramp-up of the hydrogen economy, which will help to decarbonize German industry, i.e. make it CO2-free and therefore more climate-friendly. This will ensure a secure supply of CO2-free energy in the future. The location is crucial for northwestern Europe in this regard."

Boris Richter emphasizes, "The energy turnaround will need these large-scale storage facilities from 2030 at the latest, as H2 supply and demand will diverge in time and space. Setting up the site in a sustainable way for future generations, that is our goal!"

Christian Rohde, Managing Director of EKB Storage, adds that "extremely flexible, large-volume underground storage facilities are essential for the energy transition, as they act as a variable buffer to secure supply chains and provide a link between hydrogen production or -import and consumers on the market. The Etzel site is particularly predestined for this due to its existing infrastructural importance."

Project partners of H2CAST Etzel

The project "H2CAST Etzel" includes the following project partners:

  • STORAG ETZEL: project coordinator, underground storage, borehole integrity, retrofitting, mission statement development, public relations
  • EKB Storage: surface facility, H2 conditioning, cavern connection, processing, gas quality
  • DEEP.KBB: condition assessments, engineering, test execution and evaluations
  • DLR: Overall system modeling, modes of operation, energetic overall system assessment
  • HARTMANN Valves: H2 adapted bore protection, valve technology, material suitability and leak tests, maintenance
  • SOCON: measurement technology and tests for tightness of caverns and equipment
  • Clausthal University of Technology: Investigations and verification of storage integrity and tightness of the salt rock, rock mechanics and stability, with multi-cycle operation

Further information on the H2 initiative is available at www.h2cast.com or https://www.storag-etzel.de/en/environment/h2cast-etzel.


STORAG ETZEL GmbH are the biggest independent provider of cavern storage capacity in Germany. We are proud to make our contribution to the safety of energy supply and gas grid stability in Germany and Northwestern Europe. At Etzel, East Frisia, we are constructing, operating and leasing caverns for the purpose of bulk storage of crude oil and natural gas since 1971. The cavern site Etzel is situated on the North German energy hub near Wilhelmshaven, with a connection to the deep water port.
Our customers are well known energy trading companies as well as Europeans stockpiling organizations. A major part of the German oil stockpiling obligation is stored in our caverns here at Etzel. Beyond the currently existing 75 caverns, further storage cavities within the Etzel salt dome can be created in total. There is an expansion potential up to 99 cavern locations. www.storag-etzel.de.

  • About EKB STORAGE:

EKB Storage has been operating a natural gas cavern storage facility for national and international customers in Etzel, near to Wilhemshaven, since 2012. The facility with currently nine underground caverns is one of the most modern and efficient commercial storage facilities in Germany. More information at www.ekb-storage.de

  • About DEEP.KBB:

DEEP.KBB GmbH, based in Bad Zwischenahn and Hannover, is one of the leading service companies in the field of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon storage in the geological subsurface in Europe. DEEP.KBB has over 50 years of international experience in the field of underground storage. DEEP.KBB is significantly involved in the design, construction and operation of underground storage facilities in salt rock for the storage of natural gas, mineral oil, gas and oil products, as well as storage of renewable energy, especially compressed air and hydrogen. The main focus of DEEP.KBB's services in the underground sector is on the disciplines of geology, rock mechanics, drilling and completion technology, thermodynamics, solution mining, mechanical integrity tests, cavern flooding, gas filling and reservoir engineering. www.deep-kbb.de

  • About DLR – Institute of Networked Energy Systems

The Institute of Networked Energy Systems was incorporated into the German Aerospace Center (DLR) in June 2017. The primary research objective of the three scientific departments Urban and Residential Technologies, Energy System Technologies and Energy Systems Analysis is to ensure the development of technologies and concepts for managing the energy transition. The Institute currently employs around 170 staff at two locations in Oldenburg and Stuttgart. http://www.dlr.de

  • About HARTMANN Valves:

Hartmann Valves GmbH is a supplier of special ball valves, wellheads and related service and testing. The medium-sized family-owned company is managed by the third generation and employs 200 people at its German sites in Celle and Burgdorf. Thanks to decades of international experience in the oil & gas, storage technology and (petro)chemical industries, Hartmann Valves is a sought-after pioneering partner for the switch to renewable energies - both in the field of deep geothermal energy and in solutions for applications and underground storage of hydrogen. www.hartmann-valves.com

  • About Clausthal University of Technology:

For more than 30 years, the Chair of Geomechanics and Multi-Physical Systems at Clausthal University of Technology has been working on the stability and tightness of salt caverns for storage of energy raw materials such as natural gas and crude oil, for compressed air energy storage and for brine production. The verification of stability and tightness is based on extensive and complex numerical calculations, in which the caverns and the cavern operation pattern are simulated according to real conditions. The chair has one of the world's most efficient rock physics laboratories with more than 25 triaxial testing facilities for the analysis of the thermal-mechanical-hydraulic coupled material behavior of the rock mass. For the performance of its tasks in research and teaching, the chair has an extensively equipped laboratory (currently 25 rock mechanical testing facilities), a powerful computer pool and various numerical program systems. www.ifad.tu-clausthal.de

  • About SOCON:

SOCON Sonar Control Kavernenvermessung GmbH, based in Giesen (district of Hildesheim), is a globally active service company and specializes in the surveillance of caverns, boreholes and underground cavities using engineering surveying techniques. It has around 80 employees and can look back on over 50 years of experience in the field of echometric cavern surveying. All essential components of the tools, measurement and evaluation systems originate from the company's own research and development department. www.socon.com