Several energy and industrial companies have formed a group, Hydrogen Forward, to press for a national strategy and spur investment in hydrogen, which is increasingly seen as a viable option for microgrids.
The initiative was announced last week and comes as the Biden administration makes fighting climate change a central part of its efforts over the next four years.
During the presidential campaign, President Joe Biden said he wanted to spend $2 trillion on infrastructure and clean energy. Biden supports research in renewable hydrogen to drive down its cost so it is on par with conventional hydrogen.
Renewable hydrogen is made by using renewable energy to power an electrolyzer to split water into oxygen and hydrogen that can be stored for later use to produce electricity.
The fuel can help decarbonize key parts of the economy — including shipping and transportation, power generation, refining, steelmaking, chemical production, mining and manufacturing — but the US lacks a national hydrogen strategy, according to Hydrogen Forward. The group plans to showcase the fuel’s value among Washington, D.C., policymakers and other stakeholders to “decisively accelerate adoption of hydrogen solutions and related infrastructure build-out across the nation.”
Hydrogen Forward’s founding members are Air Liquide, Anglo American, Bloom Energy, CF Industries, Chart Industries, Cummins, Hyundai, Linde, McDermott, Shell and Toyota.
“We must embrace hydrogen if we are to meet our ambitious decarbonization goals,” said KR Sridhar, CEO of Bloom Energy. “Hydrogen will enable the world to harness our abundant and affordable renewable energy and make it reliable and resilient to meet the needs of our digital world.”
Role in microgrids
The fuel, which is easily stored, is increasingly becoming a viable part of microgrid projects, according to industry observers.
In November, for example, Horizon Power said it plans to build Australia’s first renewable microgrid using the fuel, a move that is part of the country’s effort to foster the technology. The project will include a 700-kW solar farm, a 350-kW electrolyzer, hydrogen compression and storage, and a 100-kW fuel cell.
In addition, Local Power, an energy consultancy, and Ways2H, which recycles waste into renewable hydrogen, last year teamed up to develop waste-to-hydrogen community microgrids.
Citing a microgrid at California’s Stone Edge Farm Estate Vineyards and Winery, Plug Power said in a case study that there is a strong business case for green hydrogen-powered microgrids, including the ability to store renewable energy for later use. Although electrolyzer technology was pioneered decades ago, it has only recently become viable as the “clean energy transition linchpin,” according to Plug Power, which makes fuel cells and electrolyzers. Plug Power credits the transformation to recent research into new manufacturing techniques and a surge in investments in hydrogen infrastructure, which are expected to push down the price of green hydrogen.
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