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⚡ "Hydrogen, Meet Salt Cavern"

Catalyst with Shayle Kann

Photo by jewad alnabi / Unsplash

Table of Contents

Host: Shayle Kann
Guest: Jigar Shah | Director | Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO)
Category: ⚡ Renewable Energy | Hydrogen Storage

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Podcast’s Essential Bites:

[2:37| SK: “Delta, Utah […] is home to 1,000 megawatts of electrolyzers producing more than 450 tons per day of green hydrogen, storing all that green hydrogen and salt caverns, which can hold more than 5,500 tons at a time the equivalent of about 150 gigawatt hours of energy storage. For reference, we have a total of less than two gigawatt hours of energy storage in the US overall. Some of that hydrogen is powering what used to be a 1.8 gigawatt coal power plant nearby that is now running on a blend of natural gas and hydrogen and eventually will run entirely on hydrogen. The rest is then piped around for a variety of applications from the power sector to industry and heavy duty transportation.”

[3:42] SK: “The LPO (Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office) just issued a conditional commitment to guarantee an over $500 million loan to the ACES (Advanced Clean Energy Storage) project, which would become the largest green hydrogen hub in America by a long shot. The loan itself actually comes from the US Treasury’s Federal Finance Bank, and then the LPO is offering a conditional commitment to guarantee that loan.”

[5:29] JS: “[There] is an 1,800 megawatt coal plant that was there before, and it happens to sit on top of a salt dome. And so this salt dome is in a great place to be able to store hydrogen. […] There are electrolyzers that convert electricity into hydrogen. And there's a lot of water that got freed up from the coal plant shutting down. And so there's some water rights and water availability there. And there's an off taker, that's willing to pay for the capacity payment for putting this together.”

[6:44] JS: “The four corners of the project are really a power project, fundamentally. But the part that I find fascinating is that once you build the green hydrogen, you're now in a situation where it may not actually be the most valuable thing to turn it into power. So it could end up being that, someone calls them up and says, I want to make green ammonia here. […] The amazing thing about the project is it's just the start, but it has a lot of possibilities.

[9:28] JS: “The project that we're funding is an electrolyzer project using a salt dome as storage. […] That natural gas facility is supposed to be using an initial blend of 30% and then ramping up to 100%, which they think they could do as soon as 2030. But I think that as you and I look at the marketplace, the role of peaker plants is going to be moved increasingly to emergency situations. […] And so my sense is that that hydrogen then could be repurposed at that point to higher value things.”

[12:57] JS: “I don't think there's ever been a salt dome repurposed for hydrogen in this way. And so there's certainly been test facilities that have been built in the past, but to our knowledge, there's never been a commercial hydrogen storage salt dome. […] We've had our best people working on this at the Department of Energy. And they believe that the way in which we'll be upgrading the salt dome to make sure that it can store hydrogen will work.”

[18:23] JS: “If we're going to treat hydrogen and this sort of high penetration, variable renewable energy grid as something that is a fixture of the future, then you do need this kind of storage that is really applicable to the entire grid. And so when you think about variable renewable energy, obviously, you have lower loads in spring and fall, so you have great amounts of overproduction during those time periods. And then you have large amounts of load during summer and winter for the temperature extremes. So I do think that whether it's pumped hydro, or whether it's hydrogen or whether it's other things, I do think it's important to recognize that having that level of storage allows for the more advanced business models to achieve itself.”

[22:33] JS: “I think everyone acknowledges that moving hydrogen is a pain. Whether you're blending it in natural gas pipelines, or whether you're liquefying it and sending it through trucks, or whether you're just doing compressed hydrogen, or whatnot. Moving around hydrogen at scale, is not something that we're looking to do at the same level of frequency as we're currently dealing with natural gas. […] I do think when you think about the […] decarbonisation of the industrial capacity of our country, I do think you're gonna start to see people navigate towards production of hydrogen very close to the consumption of the hydrogen for that decarbonisation process.

Rating: ⚡⚡⚡

🎙️ Full Episode: Apple | Spotify | Google
🕰️ 46 min | 🗓️ 04/07/2022
✅ Time saved: 44 min

Additional Links:
Article: “Massive green hydrogen hub in Utah wins $504M federal loan guarantee” (Canary Media, 2022)

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