photo: einalem via flickr
New Mexico-based company Jetstream Wind has announced that it has begun construction in the town of Truth or Consequences on what it is calling the world's first utility-scale, zero-emissions hydrogen power plant. Though the permitting process isn't entirely finished (so why the project had a ground-breaking earlier this month seems odd...), when completed the 10 MW, $219 million plant will use wind and solar power to separate water in hydrogen and oxygen—the oxygen sold off and the hydrogen used to generate electricity:The AP quoted Jetstream CEO Henry Herman as rather cavalierly describing the project, "Basically, it's a scaled-up model of eighth-grade science. In eighth grade we took DC batteries, ran cables into water and produced hydrogen gas. All we're doing is utilizing that on a much larger scale."
Cost an Issue, Storage Solution Unknown
I say cavalierly because Herman's skipping over the hard part in all this. Without having some good way of storing that hydrogen gas for long periods of time so that you can generate electricity whenever you need it and thereby overcome the intermittency problems of wind and solar, the renewable energy sources used to generate the hydrogen in the first place probably would've been better utilized to generate electricity directly.
And then there is the cost: Though Herman kept mum to the AP and made no mention of costs whatsoever in the Jetstream press release, the cost per kilowatt-hour of electricity is bound to be high. The AP trotted out unnamed experts estimating that it's likely to be at least four times higher than other renewable energy sources.
More: Newswire, AP
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