Underground Sun Conversion research project – the only one of its kind in the world – headed by RAG
A press conference for the Underground Sun Conversion project – the only research project of its kind anywhere in the world – was held on 2 March 2017. In attendance were Jörg Leichtfried, Austrian Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology, Theresia Vogel, Managing Director of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund, RAG CEO Markus Mitteregger, and Professor Andreas Loibner of the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Vienna.
The successful Underground Sun Storage project, which focused on the storage of wind and solar energy in naturally formed gas reservoirs, is to be taken to the next stage. Building on the research conducted so far, for the first time the Underground Sun Conversion project will enable production of natural gas directly within a gas reservoir using a microbiological process initiated specifically for this purpose by RAG, and to store it in the same reservoir.
Unique research project to investigate underground storage of wind and solar energy
Federal Minister of Transport, Innovation and Technology Alois Stöger, Managing Director of the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund Theresia Vogel and RAG Chief Executive Officer Markus Mitteregger open the Underground Sun Storage test facility in Pilsbach, Upper Austria.
For the first time, a research project will investigate the possibility of storing wind and solar power at a former gas field. The storage project is based on power to gas technology, which converts electricity generated in this way into a mixture of methane and hydrogen.
Due to a constantly rising amount of energy from renewable sources in our energy system, especially from wind and solar, the demand for storage capacity in order to cover for seasonal fluctuations rises accordingly. A widely adopted approach to solve this issue is a promising new technology called “power to gas”. This technology aims to convert surpluses from the production of renewable energy systems into hydrogen via electrolysis and subsequently uses the existing gas network for storage purposes. In various studies the impact of hydrogen on the existing gas network has been analyzed and evaluated, but not its impact on existing underground gas storage systems.