The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) released the report, the Subsurface Hydrogen and Natural Gas Storage: State of Knowledge and Research Recommendations, to inform the public about the safe and effective deployment of industrial-scale underground hydrogen storage (UHS) in the United States.

Clean hydrogen is emerging as a low-carbon fuel option for transportation, electricity generation, manufacturing applications, and other clean energy applications that could accelerate the nation’s transition to a net-zero greenhouse gas emissions economy. Since large-scale hydrogen storage will be required if clean hydrogen is to help achieve U.S. climate goals, this study reports on the state of knowledge toward the viability, safety, and reliability of storing pure hydrogen or hydrogen-natural gas blends in subsurface environments. It also provides recommendations regarding the technical challenges that must be addressed to store hydrogen safely and economically at the commercial scale.

Our report found that fundamental research in the areas of subsurface flow behavior, biogeochemical processes, and materials performance must be conducted to advance the development of UHS technology. We also noted that pilot demonstration tests will be required in the next three to five years to significantly accelerate UHS technology understanding and confidence among operators, regulators, and industry stakeholders. Several modeling capabilities can be deployed as screening tools to rapidly estimate the capacity, deliverability, and storage reliability of hydrogen and natural gas blends for candidate site selection, which will be needed to further enable hydrogen markets and decarbonization opportunities.  

When preparing this report, we leveraged the expertise of three national laboratories—the National Energy Technology Laboratory, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Ultimately, the report concludes that DOE could play a pivotal role in UHS technology development by advancing the scientific understanding of fundamental processes and technologies, and by communicating key findings to stakeholders.

FECM works collaboratively with other DOE offices on hydrogen through the Hydrogen Program. Visit our website to learn more about our programs and sign up to receive future FECM news announcements. And to learn more about the importance of UHS technology development, including the key recommendations outlined above, read the report here.