SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall are inaugurating 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. The inauguration ceremony marks 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. 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 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 pilot plant has a size of 100 cubic meters. At a later stage, a full-scale hydrogen gas storage facility measuring 100,000 to 120,000 cubic meters 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.
Using HYBRIT technology, SSAB can reduce Sweden’s carbon dioxide emissions by 10%. SSAB, LKAB and Vattenfall invested a total of SEK 259 million in the hydrogen storage itself, divided into three equal parts, and the Swedish Energy Agency contributed SEK 72 million.
Khashayar Farmanbar, Minister for Energy and Digital Development, said, “When we build the energy system of the future, we need to both take advantage of opportunities to store energy and ensure that large energy users can be flexible in their consumption. This is exactly what HYBRIT does through its unique hydrogen storage.”
Andreas Regnell, Chairman of the Board, Hybrit Development AB (HDAB) and Senior VP 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.”
Martin Pei, CTO at SSAB, said, “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.”
Lars Ydreskog, Senior Vice President Strategic Projects at LKAB, said, “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. 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.”
Klara Helstad, Head of Sustainable Industry Unit at the Swedish Energy Agency, said, “Storage of hydrogen gas will be an important piece of the puzzle for a fossil-free value chain for the iron and steel industry, but also in a future robust electrical system.”