Objectives of the service
As the energy transition progresses, renewable energy sources need to be backed with energy storage to balance the energy grids and markets. Although batteries are a viable option, they are expensive and environmentally unfriendly at large scales of systems. Nature offers us extensive reservoirs underground, which can be used for simultaneous energy and fluids storage, far more common than similar surface applications like pumped-hydro storage limited by geomorphological setting.
Within the frame of the study, we are proving the viability of investments in technologies like green hydrogen storage to secure the needs of future energy mix. During the first case study, GeoStorage is focusing on Poland, where energy transition needs innovative approaches to tackle the long-term climate goals. Within the terrestrial track of the study, we aim to provide a strategic investment analysis for the national administration and Polish energy companies.
The space track of the study aims to translate the terrestrial practices in underground storage to a planetary environment. Similar problems are faced both on Earth and in space when renewable energy sources are used. To prepare for a long-term habitation of the Moon, we can utilize known and prospective geologic formations, like lava tubes or ice caves, as reservoirs for shared In Situ Resource Utilization and Environmental Control and Life Support System infrastructure.
Users and their needs
Energy-transitioning countries, like Poland, need adaptable solutions for electric power systems that can meet variable consumption needs, and operate under conditions of increasingly variable power production. Until a certain level of renewable energy sources in the energy mix (15 to 25%), integration of wind and photovoltaic sources can be managed using the existing flexibility of the systems. However, with the current climate goals, energy storage is crucial to counter the demand and supply variability. Although prospectively having a lowered efficiency than other types of storage, geologic energy storage can provide the highest capacity long-duration energy storage integrated in the national energy grids.
The energy storage services may fill the following user needs:
Service/ system concept
This study provides a first-iteration investment planning data for development of pilot plants and full-scale energy storage installations utilizing underground reservoirs in Poland. Further preparations may be developed for other EU countries in the future.
The surplus energy from the national energy grid during times of an increased renewable production, will be used for production of green hydrogen injected into a geologic formation. Large amounts of hydrogen will be trapped under hundreds of meters of overburden rock in a salt cavern acting as an impermeable tank. During the energy shortage in the system, the hydrogen will be produced from the formation, and electric energy will be recuperated in the surface combustion plant producing heat and water. The market energy prices will not fluctuate, and you will be safe from any blackouts!
Space Added Value
The space track of the study focuses on the international plans for development of lunar outposts, and their gradual expansion into permanent lunar bases. Artemis Base Camp, International Lunar Research Station, or Moon Village programmes provide important location and energy considerations, which can be integrated into the concepts for geologic energy storage on the Moon. The technology concepts developed in the frame of this study not only provides a direction for future development but, due to a lack of certain geologic data, provides further requirements for site selection and basic science on the Moon. Most importantly, the ability to integrate geologic energy storage in the broad habitation architectures allows for higher sustainability and derisking of such facilities, providing an important infrastructure element of shared ISRU and ECLSS.
This one-year study kicked-off in March 2022 and will produce a publicly available feasibility report in early Spring 2023. Current activities focus on technical analyses and stakeholders’ engagement, including preparations for an energy storage workshop in the Fall of 2022.
Before the first progress meeting, the consortium preselected 7 regional locations, where geologic energy storage sites can be implemented in Poland, based on their renewable potential, geologic availability, and local energy supply-demand factors. Further actions focus on trade-offs of location-technology pairs, and economic forecasting of performance of the most optimal solution.