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NREL's hydrogen-wind plan

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Posted by lkgeo1 on December 8, 2006, 2:11 pm

NREL's hydrogen-wind plan
Lab partners with Xcel to develop combo technology
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By Gargi Chakrabarty, Rocky Mountain News
December 8, 2006
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Xcel Energy next week will
announce an ambitious $ million research partnership to use hydrogen
for storing wind electricity.
The ground-breaking technology will use wind power to separate hydrogen
from water and store that hydrogen in special containers so it can be
used later to generate electricity.

Scientists say the stored hydrogen, for instance, can be used in fuel
cells or gas turbines to generate electricity at peak demand hours,
such as during afternoons in summer when customers crank up air
conditioners. The stored hydrogen also can be used to make
transportation fuel.

Developing the technology is important for Xcel, which is committed to
buying power from many new wind projects in order to comply with the
renewable energy standards passed by voters in November 2004.

"This partnership with NREL is another example of our commitment to
reducing our impact on the environment," said Xcel spokeswoman Ethnie

The system will be at NREL's National Wind Technology Center, where
hydrogen will be produced, compressed and stored. The research is
expected to be completed by 2008. At that time, Xcel will to move the
equipment to another location in Colorado.

Xcel plans to invest more than $.25 million in the project. NREL and
the Department of Energy will to invest approximately $50,000.

Richard Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel, along with Dan
Arvizu, director of National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will announce
the partnership on Thursday.

Xcel has 282 megawatts of wind power in its system. It has OK'd another
775 megawatts worth of new projects, which will be online by the end of

Those projects will bring Xcel in compliance with Amendment 37, or
Colorado's renewable energy standard.

The mandate requires Xcel to acquire 10 percent of its electricity
sales from renewable sources such as wind, sun, or plant and animal
waste through 2015. At least 4 percent of that must come from solar

Posted by Eeyore on December 8, 2006, 3:15 pm

lkgeo1 wrote:

Bwahahahahahaha !

What a hopelessly inefficient method.


Posted by CM on December 12, 2006, 5:30 am

Very Very Bad Idea. The highest efficiency for electrolysis of water is
60%, (50% more typical, homebrew can be below 20%). Then used in a fuel
cell at 50% (or less) results in an efficiency of 30% or less. Then
subtract the energy needed to compress, or worse, liquify the hydrogen, and
overall efficiency drops even lower. That's the "more efficient" option -
running IC engines on hydrogen would be in the single digit efficiendy
range. Compare that with battery efficiency that can be over 80%, and it
looks really poor, indeed.

Then add the incredible bulkiness of hydrogen, and the huge and expensive
tanks required, and it becomes obvious that it is the most expensive way to
store power as well as the least efficient.

The concern for the environment is honorable, it's the methods that are

Sigh. Wouldn't be the first time a company has been suckered into
squandered large amounts of money on nearly worthless technology. Won't be
the last time, either. At least, they haven't squandered nearly as much as
GM and Honda.

And they will be throwing away a substantian portion of that with a very
inefficient storage method. Lead acid batteries would be more efficient and
cheaper, and other methods better yet. Xcel needs a new CEO that has a
better understanding of how bad the hydrogen hoopla really is.


Posted by HeyBub on December 17, 2006, 11:01 pm

lkgeo1 wrote:

This is similar to California's solution. They installed giant pumps that
ran at night to pump water back UP to the resevoirs so it would be available
to run hydro-electric generators during periods of higher demand the next

Posted by Eeyore on December 17, 2006, 11:48 pm

HeyBub wrote:

Pumped storage as you describe is easily 4 or 5 times more efficient than using
hydrogen and has far lower capital costs.


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