The US Department of Energy has committed US $ 20 million to an Arizona-based project that will use nuclear power to create green hydrogen, testing its ability as a liquid back-up battery and as a by-product for nuclear installations.
The project will be led by PNW Hydrogen LLC and will build hydrogen production facilities at the Palo Verde nuclear power plant site in Phoenix, Arizona. There will be storage tanks large enough for six tonnes of hydrogen at the site, which represents around 200 MWh of energy that can be converted back into electricity and fed into the grid when demand is high.
H2 will also be “used to make chemicals and other fuels”, and the project will explore how nuclear power plants can export and sell excess energy as an additional source of income. In a future energy ecosystem based on renewables, basic electricity providers like nuclear power plants will only be needed when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, so hydrogen production could be a useful way to use their downtime.
This is part of the DoE’s “Hydrogen Shot” goal of reducing green H2 prices from about $ 5 / kg to $ 1 / kg in a decade. How is this goal helped by using expensive nuclear power, rather than the much cheaper solar power, to create hydrogen? Well, if the use of hydrogen as a liquid grid battery is economically viable for power plants, if not nearly viable, then the excess hydrogen flow produced after the main tanks are full can be sold at a low price. This project will test the economics of the idea.
Source: US Department of Energy