SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have, today, inaugurated HYBRIT’s pilot facility for fossil-free hydrogen gas storage at Svartöberget in Luleå, Sweden.
The rock cavern storage facility is the first of its kind in the world, with the inauguration ceremony marking the start of the two-year test period, which will run until 2024.
The HYBRIT initiative was launched in 2016 by the three owners: SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall. Within this, the hydrogen storage facility will play a very important role in the overall value chain for fossil-free iron and steel production. Producing fossil-free hydrogen gas when there is a lot of electricity, for example when it is very windy, and using stored hydrogen gas when the electricity system is under strain, will ensure a steady production of sponge iron, the raw material behind fossil-free steel, the partners said.
The technology for storing gas in a lined rock cavern (LRC) is well proven and has been used in southern Sweden for about 20 years for storing natural gas, the partners says. Now the technology is taking a step forward by the development for storage of hydrogen gas. The storage facility is set to be used more dynamically, being filled and emptied at pace with the hydrogen production.
The pilot plant has a size of 100 cu.m. At a later stage, a full-scale hydrogen gas storage facility measuring 100,000-120,000 cu.m may be required, in which case it will be able to store up to 100 GWh of electricity converted to hydrogen gas, which is sufficient to supply a full-sized sponge iron factory for three to four days.
Andreas Regnell, Chairman of the Board, Hybrit Development AB (HDAB), and Senior Vice President and Head of Strategic Development at Vattenfall, said: “We want to develop HYBRIT so that it is in line with the electricity system of the future, with more weather-dependent electricity generation. The storage facility is unique and, once again, the HYBRIT initiative is taking the lead in the fossil-free transition. HYBRIT is very important for facing the climate challenge and enabling fossil-free living within one generation.”
Martin Pei, CTO at SSAB, added: “SSAB has the opportunity to transform our operations and cut 10% of Sweden’s total carbon dioxide emissions as well as 7% of Finland’s, and this will take us one step closer to our goal. The hydrogen storage facility is an important piece of the puzzle in ensuring stable steel production and a milestone in the development of HYBRIT.”
Lars Ydreskog, Senior Vice President Strategic Projects at LKAB, said hydrogen gas and its storage were central to its transition.
“In four years, HYBRIT technology will be used on a large scale in the first demonstration plant in Gällivare, and the plan is to then build more sponge iron factories,” Ydreskog said. “LKAB will, therefore, need to become one of Europe’s biggest hydrogen producers, and this pilot project will provide valuable knowledge for the continuing work on creating the world’s first fossil-free value chain for the iron and steel industry.”
Using HYBRIT technology, SSAB can reduce Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10%. SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall have invested a total of SEK259 million ($25 million) in the hydrogen storage itself, divided into three equal parts, and the Swedish Energy Agency has contributed with SEK72 million.