Green Hydrogen: An Energy Storage Solution for the Western U.S.


Green Hydrogen Plant

In 2025, the Intermountain Power Plant will convert from an 1,800 MW coal-fired power plant to an 840 MW combined cycle gas turbine capable of using a blend of natural gas and 30% green hydrogen in 2025. Photo by Green Hydrogen Coalitionv

Hydrogen is an energy carrier that can be used in many applications. I learn about recent advances for its use in aviation, in trucking, and for mining operations. I thank the Green Hydrogen Coalition for expanding my brain. The group had a recent web call I attended, and where I was impressed by one single notion: That Utah’s salt caverns could become the Western United States’ centralized energy storage site.

A study commissioned by Mitsubishi Power, and completed by Magnum Energy, found that one salt cavern explored could hold 150 Gigawatt-hours of green hydrogen storage. That’s 100 times the aggregate amount of storage throughout the United States today. Utah can cost-effectively serve the region in the storage and delivery of green hydrogen, as well as renewable electricity.

Energy Storage: The Insurance for Renewable Energy

I learn a new word, a German word: dunkelflaute. It refers to the fear, or angst, of having inadequate sunshine or wind to maintain a viable supply of renewable energy. Lost a bit in translation, it speaks to being in a “dark lull” and the anxiety of it all. Dunkelflaute flags the enormous challenge of fully integrating renewables into the grid and getting to 100 percent.

How can we ride through “short periods” of up to 60 minutes without generation (when there’s no sun or wind), “medium periods” that last for a few hours to several days, and “long periods” that can be up to two weeks in cases of very unfavorable, and unusual, weather? Like insurance policies of any kind, we need to ensure enough power in the worst-case scenario. That spells lots of energy storage.

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