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Large-scale energy storage for maintaining security of future energy supply

Our future renewable energy system, based on renewable sources, will have to be highly flexible to cope with the larger variations in energy production and consumption. Together with partners EBN, Gasunie, Gasterra, NAM and Nouryon, TNO is investigating the role that large-scale underground energy storage (in the form of hydrogen and compressed air) can play in maintaining security of supply when integrating large quantities of wind and solar energy. The project is partly funded by the Dutch Government.

Want to know more about large-scale, reliable and sustainable energy storage?

Contact Remco Groenenberg


Why energy storage?

Our future renewables-based, low-carbon energy system requires adaptations to accommodate the changing and varying patterns of energy production and consumption. It will be characterized by a larger share of (intermittent) renewables (wind, solar), complemented by other (flexible) forms of power/heat production, improved grid interconnectivity, demand-response functionalities and the deployment of energy storage technologies. 

Energy storage will play a pivotal role in providing the needed flexibility and offering balancing options to the integrated energy system. Greater deployment of energy storage is required at different scales, i.e. from low power and fast response solutions (< 1kW;<1s) to longer-term balancing needs for the grid (>1GW;hours/days/months). Large-scale energy storage can provide flexible bulk power management services for electricity, gas and heat commodities. In addition to flexibility, large-scale energy storage can offer essential services to society in the form of security of supply of energy, by offering balancing solutions for unavoidable daily to seasonal variations in supply and demand, and strategic energy reserves. Growth of these services to sufficient scale is key to ensuring robust, reliable, affordable and secure energy supply at all times.

Action is needed on multiple levels and barriers for deployment need to be removed. There is a key window of opportunity to rebuild momentum for R&D on large-scale energy storage, while benefiting from synergy with developments in adjacent research domains (smart energy systems, grid management, energy system integration, production and transport of hydrogen, power-to-X).


Improve insights into the role that large-scale subsurface energy storage options can play in providing flexibility to the current and future transitioning energy system.

Address techno-economic challenges, identify societal and regulatory barriers to deployment, and assess risks associated with selected large-scale subsurface energy storage technologies, in particular Compressed Air Energy Storage (CAES) and Hydrogen Energy Storage (HES).


TNO will carry out the research in close collaboration with partners EBN, Gasunie, Gasterra, NAM and Nouryon.
Activities are divided over 4 workpackages that run in parallel:

1. Analysis of the role of large-scale storage in the future energy system: what will be the demand for large-scale storage, when in time will it arise, and where geographically in our energy system will it be needed?
2. Techno-economic modelling (performance, cost, economics) of large-scale energy storage systems, focusing in CAES and HES in salt caverns, and HES in depleted gasfields (analogous to natural gas storage).
3. Assessment of the current policy and regulatory frameworks and how they limit or support the deployment of large-scale energy storage, and stakeholder perception regarding energy storage.
4. Risk identification and screening for the selected large-scale subsurface energy storage technologies.

Expected results

After this project, there will be a clearer view on the amount of storage required in the future Dutch energy system, when in time demand will arise, and which technologies are best suited to provide it. Technology-specific challenges will have been identified that can be further addressed in a follow-up R&D programme.

This project, which is the first of its kind on subsurface energy storage funded under the Geo Energy call of TKI New Gas, will run for one year, and is expected to deliver its final results before the summer of 2020. Final results will be presented during a public event, and disseminated in the form of a downloadable report. Intermediate results will be posted on this project page periodically.


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