Scientists have uncovered the potential for large-scale, underground storage of hydrogen in salt caverns across the country.
News of the discovery came last month ahead of the inaugural showcase of the Federal Government’s Exploring for the Future program.
Hydrogen salt storage involves producing artificial caverns in naturally occurring geological salt deposits.
Underground storage is considered a safe and cheap alternative for large scale hydrogen storage compared to other forms, such as liquid ammonia or liquid hydrogen, or equivalent battery storage.
Depleted gas fields are also another potential option for large scale hydrogen storage. If found suitable, depleted gas fields, along with salt caverns, could store very large quantities of hydrogen to support domestic seasonal power demands and export needs.
Federal Minister for Resources, and Northern Australia Madeleine King said that technology existed to store hydrogen underground and “thanks to this work we now also know that Australia has the right geology to support the development of an economically viable hydrogen industry on our own soil”.
“Geoscience Australia has uncovered potential for the development of multiple caverns underground in salt deposits across the Canning Basin in Western Australia, the Adavale Basin in Queensland and the offshore Polda Basin in South Australia.
“A single large salt cavern could provide the same amount of energy storage as Snowy Hydro 2.0 with multiple caverns this size possible in the same area.
“Hydrogen is a clean fuel and large-scale cost-effective storage of hydrogen will be essential in achieving our long-term goals for the future.
“This new information captured by the Exploring for the Future program and other major discoveries demonstrate Australia’s monumental potential as a hydrogen superpower.”
The $225 million Exploring for the Future program has been gathering precompetitive data about Australia’s geology since 2016.
It puts key information in the hands of Australians, creating jobs for regional communities and enabling landholders, industry, and government to make informed decisions.
From 2020 to 2024, eight projects will continue to unlock the potential of Australia’s groundwater, energy and mineral resources. This includes:
Three deep-dive projects in the geological regions of Officer–Musgrave in central-west Australia, Darling–Curnamona–Delamerian in south-east Australia and Barkly–Isa–Georgetown in the north-east
Three continental-scale projects that have national applications but with a focus in southern Australia: Australia’s Resources Framework, National Groundwater Systems and Australia’s Future Energy Resources projects
Two program support projects: Enhanced Data Delivery and Geoscience Knowledge Sharing projects.
All projects are collaborations with Commonwealth, state, territory and university partners, landholders, and Traditional Owner groups; and leverage the capabilities of Australia’s world-leading Mining Equipment, Technology and Services sector.