Wind to Hydrogen Storage
Converting wind energy to store as hydrogen is not a new concept. In 1891 Danish scientist Poul la Cour built a windmill to do just this. The Danish government supported the experimental windmill at Askov where la Cour would use wind energy to create electricity.
|The electricity was used to electrolyze water to create hydrogen and oxygen gases. Poul la Cour used the hydrogen and oxygen mixture to illuminate the Askov Folk High School.||
Even though fuel cells were developed in the late 1830’s, these were not considered for the wind to hydrogen experiment. Today, however, this combination has taken on a new interest.
Because of the intermittent nature of wind energy, many industry insiders would like to have a way to store this energy during off-peak hours and use it during on-peak hours. Electricity could be sold back to the utility companies at a higher rate during on-peak hours and could supply electricity even though the wind may not be blowing at these moments.
As stated before, the method of using wind to hydrogen storage will involve wind energy creating electricity, the electricity electrolyzing water and the resulting hydrogen gas will be separated and stored.
When needed the hydrogen gas (and oxygen from ambient air) would be run through a fuel cell to create electricity on demand and put onto the power grid.
Some wind turbine owners are looking to store the hydrogen in the turbine towers, plus other places above ground or below ground. Inside the wind turbine towers hydrogen could either be compressed and stored at high pressures or barely compressed and stored in metal hydride tanks, which usually only require a small amount of heat to release the hydrogen.
If storing hydrogen in above ground tanks, either of these two methods mentioned can also be used. Storing hydrogen below ground can involve these two methods as well plus large underground caverns, depleted oil fields or salt domes may also fill the bill.
One of the largest U. S. hydrogen producers, Praxair uses underground hydrogen storage in a cavern along the Gulf Coast of Texas. ConocoPhillips also has a hydrogen-filled cavern in Texas that they use for refining oil.
So, the technology to store hydrogen is already here. And, the technology to create hydrogen cheaply via the electrolysis of water is almost here. In the not too distant future wind to hydrogen storage will be a reality in many large wind farms across the U. S. and beyond.