Completion of expanded gas storage facility at Gasunie Zuidwending B.V.

01 Oct 2013

  • Fastest gas storage facility in the world ready for balancing role in increasingly more sustainable energy  mix
  • Backup for gas trading function and security of supply in the Netherlands
  • Project concluded safely and well within schedule and within budget

On Tuesday 1 October, Gasunie Zuidwending B.V. will bring its fifth underground gas storage cavern into use. Four caverns have already been constructed in an earlier phase of the project.  With the completion of the fifth cavern and an extra compressor, Gasunie’s storage installation (natural gas buffer) near Zuidwending is ready to pull out all the stops to respond to the increasing demand for flexibility in the energy supply and it will offer opportunities for energy trading.

Fast, effective forms of energy storage are needed, among other things, as the proportion of wind and solar energy continues to rise. The extreme variations in energy production from wind and solar energy demand a storage medium that is able to react quickly in order to supplement shortages or temporarily store surpluses. The natural gas buffer also broadens trading options for customers. They can buy gas at a favourable price, store the gas in the storage facility and sell it at a strategic point in time, including within intra-day.

Giving the market a super-fast service
Gasunie Zuidwending B.V. is offering these extended storage capacities to the market from 1 October. The buffer’s unique efficiency means that energy suppliers and traders can respond extremely quickly to market movements. The buffer’s range of services is specifically coordinated to the speed of the buffer and will be further extended in the near future. With such features, the Zuidwending storage facility heightens the attraction of the Netherlands as a gas trading country. In this way, the Title Transfer Facility (TTF, Dutch gas trading platform) is further expanding its leading role on the European continent, with favourable effects for the availability of gas and gas price-setting in the Netherlands. With this new gas storage facility, the Netherlands is strengthening its position as the Northwest European ‘gas roundabout’ and customers can remain assured of a safe and constant gas supply.

Switching time: 30 minutes
The caverns’ salt layers were specially leached out for gas storage purposes, deep underground near Veendam in the province of Groningen. The five caverns contain flexible gas supplies which can absorb short-term differences in natural gas supply and demand. They are designed so as to be able to react quickly to sudden peaks and troughs in the demand for natural gas. Salt caverns make it possible to inject and deliver gas quickly. The use of two wells per cavern and the design of the aboveground installation means that they can switch within thirty minutes from maximum gas taken in to maximum gas pumped out. In this way, the facility is able to respond on demand to fluctuations in gas and energy requirements during the day, while the inflow of gas from other fields in the Netherlands, Norway and Russia remains constant. And so, even if there is a sudden cold snap, the heating will stay on in millions of homes, morning showers will be hot and gas-fired power plants can step up their power production at a moment’s notice. This fast response time sets the cavern storage facility at Zuidwending apart from other gas storages in the Netherlands (Norg, Grijpskerk, Bergermeer) in empty gas fields. These function more as seasonal reserves.

More than one and a half Eiffel Towers
After three years of leaching activities, the cavern has been completed well within schedule and within budget. The natural gas buffer, which is connected to the Groningen gas transmission network, consists of an aboveground gas plant and five caverns at a depth of between 1,000 and 1,500 metres. The first four caverns, which were brought into use in early 2011, are around 300 metres high and 50 to 60 metres across. The fifth cavern is 500 metres high and around 80 metres across. The Eiffel Tower (324 m) would fit into the latest cavern around one and a half times. The natural gas is stored at a maximum pressure of 180 bar. Each cavern can make more than 50 to 60 million m3 of natural gas available to the market (working gas volume). From the five caverns, a maximum of 1.8 million m3 gas per hour can be produced and a maximum of 1 million m3 per hour can be injected. The gas storage facility involves an investment of more than € 600 million. The construction also provided substantial opportunities for extra employment. During the construction work, Gasunie took a lot of time to communicate with those in the surrounding area and with its neighbours. The neighbours and local authorities were closely involved in the project from the very beginning of planning in 2003.

On May 20, 2014 Gasunie Zuidwending changed its company name to EnergyStock. This news item was posted by EnergyStock’s predecessor Gasunie Zuidwending before the name change.