Energy and earth scientists receive 1.2 million euros for research needed to accelerate energy transition

Unlocking Hydrogen potential: Analysing Upscaling Opportunities and Subsurface Storage

The National Growth Fund has allocated 1.2M EUR to fund Utrecht University’s contribution to the GroenvermogenNL project’s Work package 2, ‘Transport and storage of hydrogen’; the investment programme for accelerating and realising a green hydrogen and green chemistry economy in the Netherlands. Hydrogen, when produced without CO2 emissions, is a promising energy carrier that could facilitate and accelerate the transition to a climate-friendly society. Energy scientist Dr. Matteo Gazzani and earth scientist Dr. Suzanne Hangx will study the potential for upscaling green hydrogen and the associated subsurface storage solutions. The research activities for this work package bring together a wide range of different fields of expertise, and will begin in February 2024.

Utrecht University is involved in two of the project’s tasks. Dr. Matteo Gazzani will lead the task ‘Upscaling and System Integration’, which analyses the challenges around upscaling the hydrogen market, the infrastructure development, and the integration between the future hydrogen- and electricity grids. Dr. Suzanne Hangx will contribute to the sub-task ‘Large scale hydrogen storage’, which focuses on safe, temporary subsurface hydrogen storage in depleted reservoirs of hydrogen carriers or liquefied hydrogen.

Upscaling and System Integration

This task will focus on the various research activities required for the upscaling potential of hydrogen. Dr. Matteo Gazzani explains: “This potential includes strengthening the underpinning industrial ecosystem and boosting the Netherlands’ industrial competitiveness for hydrogen transport and storage technologies, to developing market and system designs that exploit the integration between hydrogen and the electricity distribution grids.”

Hydrogen storage

Storing green hydrogen is essential to balance day-to-day and seasonal variations in the renewable energy supply. “A key advantage of hydrogen is that it can be stored in large quantities underground, for example in engineered salt caverns or depleted gas fields,” says Dr. Suzanne Hangx. She will investigate the effect of storing hydrogen in depleted gas fields. Special focus will be given to quantifying the effect of hydrogen on the storage integrity of the clay-rich sealing formations that overlay many of the potential storage reservoirs in the Dutch subsurface. Hangx: “This research will provide the physics-based understanding needed to accurately assess the safety of temporary hydrogen storage.”


The Groenvermogen NL Work package 2 is a consortium which includes a wide range of experts from 39 partner institutes. This work package has a broad scope for realising a sustainable green hydrogen economy. The full GroenvermogenNL project consists of seven work packages, each of which contributes to the successful implementation of green hydrogen as an alternative energy source. Work package 2 is the first WP of the programme to be awarded such a grant, with the other WPs expected to follow in the coming months.