26.05. | Fridays for Future: Webinar on hydrogen mobility
26. May 2020
UMAS Project starts: An underground energy storage for Berlin
10. June 2020

UMAS: Underground Methanization in Aquifer Storage

The UMAS project is investigating, whether the Berlin Natural Gas Storage Facility, which has been shut down since 2017, could be used as an energy storage for electricity from renewable sources in the future.

The Berlin Natural Gas Storage Facility is located in the district of Charlottenburg, about 800 meters below the earth's surface. It is a porous sandstone layer that can absorb gas and hold it safely – natural gas was stored here until 2017. Using it as a storage for renewable energy instead, works in two steps:

  1. Surplus electricity from renewable energy, which is generated on days with strong winds and strong solar radiation, is converted into hydrogen by electrolysis (power-to-gas).
  2. The hydrogen is put into the underground storage together with CO2 and converted into methane gas by biological methanization.
The methane gas can then be used directly in Berlin's natural gas network – for example for heat or mobility. Compared to the direct use of renewable energy as electricity, this is obviously a detour in which losses occur. Nevertheless, the technology has advantages, because flexibility is needed to balance the fluctuating generation of renewable energy and the energy demand in an energy system. The coupling of the electricity and gas sectors can thus make an important contribution in this respect.

In UMAS, experts from the fields of microbiology, biochemistry, process engineering, geology, economics, and energy system analysis work together to explore the potential of the Berlin Natural Gas Storage Facility for the energy transition. RLI focuses on the integration of the storage facility into the Berlin energy system and on the involvement of local residents.

The two-and-a-half year project, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy, will take place exclusively in the laboratory. The results will form the basis for a field test, which will take place in a follow-up project.

Project duration: May 2020 – October 2022

RLI is responsible for the following task in the UMAS project:

  • Analysis of the energy system surrounding the storage facility with renewable and conventional producers and consumers and the grid
  • Simulation of the energy system surrounding the storage facility in a computer model
  • Determination of the potential of the storage facility for emission reduction, system stabilization, and economic operation
  • Involving local residents and engaging their participation through transparency and provision of information


MicroPro GmbH
TU Clausthal

Associated partners:

Uni Regensburg


Supported by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy as part of the 7th Energy Research Programme.

Research at RLI is supported by the Reiner Lemoine Foundation.


Jann Launer

Project Manager

Lena Haug

Unit Head

Sabine Haas