Scenario simulation based assessment of subsurface energy storage

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Christof Beyer, Sebastian Bauer and Andreas Dahmke, University of Kiel, Kiel, Germany
Energy production from renewable sources such as solar or wind power is characterized by temporally varying power supply. The politically intended transition towards renewable energies in Germany („Energiewende“) hence requires the installation of energy storage technologies to compensate for the fluctuating production. In this context, subsurface energy storage represents a viable option due to large potential storage capacities and the wide prevalence of suited geological formations. Technologies for subsurface energy storage comprise cavern or deep porous media storage of synthetic hydrogen or methane from electrolysis and methanization, or compressed air, as well as heat storage in shallow or moderately deep porous formations. Pressure build-up, fluid displacement or temperature changes induced by such operations may affect local and regional groundwater flow, geomechanical behavior, groundwater geochemistry and microbiology. Moreover, subsurface energy storage may interact and possibly be in conflict with other “uses” like drinking water abstraction or ecological goods and functions. An utilization of the subsurface for energy storage therefore requires an adequate system and process understanding for the evaluation and assessment of possible impacts of specific storage operations on other types of subsurface use, the affected environment and protected entities.

This contribution presents the framework of the ANGUS+ project, in which tools and methods are developed for these types of assessments. Synthetic but still realistic scenarios of geological energy storage are derived and parameterized for representative North German storage sites by data acquisition and evaluation, and experimental work. Coupled numerical hydraulic, thermal, mechanical and reactive transport (THMC) simulation tools are developed and applied to simulate the energy storage and subsurface usage scenarios, which are analyzed for an assessment and generalization of the imposed THMC-processes, mutual effects and influences on protected entities. The scenario analyses allow the deduction of monitoring concepts as well as a first methodology for large scale spatial planning of the geological subsurface. This concept is illustrated for different storage options and their impacts in space and time.