Environmental Engineering Reference
Figure 1.3 Left: Building a natural gas pipeline in Eastern Germany. Right: Storage facility for 4.2
billion m 3 of natural gas in Rehden, 60 km south of Bremen. Photos: WINGAS GmbH.
that extracting it requires drilling to depths of several thousand metres. It also
requires complicated transport. Whereas oil initially was still being transported in
wooden barrels, gas requires pressure storage or pipelines for its transport. Nowadays,
pipelines extend for thousands of kilometres from the places where the gas is
extracted all the way to where it provides gas heating to family homes (Figure 1.3).
The world's largest gas producer is Russia, followed by the USA, Canada, Iran,
Norway and Algeria.
However, the demand for natural gas is not constant over the whole year. In coun-
tries with cold winters the demand in winter is often double what it is in summer.
As it is not economical to cut production by half in the summer, enormous storage
facilities are necessary to balance the uneven demand between summer and winter.
So-called salt caverns and aquifer reservoirs are used. Caverns are shafts dug in
underground salt deposits from where the stored gas can quickly be extracted - for
instance, to cover sudden high demand. Underground aquifer reservoirs are suitable
for the storage of particularly large quantities of gas. In total, Germany has over 30
billion cubic metres of natural gas in storage. Environmentally compatible hydrogen
is expected to play an important role in future energy supply in just a few decades'
time. It might be possible to convert the current natural gas storage facilities to store