Hydrogen is quickly becoming recognized as the go-to power, fuel and storage medium that can, in many ways, be the shining light along the pathway of the highly sought after Zero Emissions. Power is everything in our energy-reliant civilization. It's not an option, really, to have the power go out. And to keep the lights burning, the US consumes 3,80 TWhs of electrical power annually. California alone consumes 272 TWhs annually. The EIA (Energy Information Administration) forecasts a whopping 50% increase in the nation's power needs by 2050. So what does this mean in real numbers?
A 1 GW fossil-based power plant requires 640 acres (1 square mile) of land mass to produce 7.4 TWhs annually. Combined Renewable Energy (RE) wind and solar to replace a 1GW power plant - without any backup - requires 83 square miles. By 2050 California will need an additional 30 GWs of RE power generation to meet its SB-100 Zero Emissions mandate. An additional 2,739 square miles of land mass at a cost of $24 - $35 Billion. Considering the costs of RE, the land, the power generation and the UN-reliability factor replacing the state's base load power supply with intermittent proves unworkable.
Millions of kilos of Hydrogen that turns into billion of kWhs requires vast resources of water, natural gas and coal with CCU. A 4 MW wind turbine can only produce 800 kilos of hydrogen per day via electrolysis (IF) the wind is blowing. A 50 MW solar farm will only produce 5,280 kilos per day (IF) the sun is shining. Our power needs do not diminish when the sun goes down or the wind stops blowing - rather our power consumption often increases, especially during inclement weather - the very thing that kills solar and wind.
To offset the (UN)-reliability factor, the US is developing hybrid power plants. The hydrogen IPP project in Delta, Utah, set to come on line in 2025, will use 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas. That is equivalent to 318,000 kilos per day - 24/7/365. Once the IPP plant starts using 100% hydrogen - as has been claimed - it will require 1,000,000 kilo per day. IPA - the management company of the IPP project and the LADWP of California (75% owner) has claimed the hydrogen for the IPP plant will be generated via electrolysis and power supplied by RE - wind and solar. But what happens when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining and California needs power round the clock? This cleaner burning plant will only meet 7% of California's clean energy needs.
Transforming the western region - let alone the state of California - will take vast resources of land, consumables, power and $$billions. Just the IPP project alone - 840 MWs of nameplate capacity that will require 149.8 MMCFS of natural gas. This first of its kind using a 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas mix fuel will consume 104.8 MMCFD (1,037 Btu per cubic foot) or 107.8 Billion BTUs per day of natural gas. Hydrogen on the other hand has - (325 Btu/cubic foot) X (423 cubic feet/kilo) = (137,475 Btu/kilo) - and alone in the first phase launch in 2025 will require ~300 electrolyzers working around the clock. Each electrolyzer requires 2.2 MW of power to produce the necessary 30% hydrogen equivalent of natural gas in a 840 MW power plant generating power from Utah to California. This IPP project only represents 6.25 TWhs of the the annual energy demand of 259.5 TWhs consumed throughout the state annually.
Just 80 miles due east of Delta is the multi-faceted Utah Hydrogen Project in Emery County - a stone throw away from the Berkshire Hathaway Energy Hunter Plant. It is one of the US largest hydrogen developments at first phase 200 MWs that will produce 22 million kilos of hydrogen per year. And this is just the beginning. Once in full operation the facility will be able to produce 75 million kilos per year with Carbon Capture and Utilization and carbon neutral hydrogen. This facility will be able to supply California budding hydrogen infrastructure for light and heavy duty but also serve as a backup for the IPP plant - "Plan B" due to the 13.5 Billion cubic feet of underground storage also in development. The supply of the entire western region cannot be reliant on just one facility. As big as the IPP project sounds - Neither IPP and the Magnum ACES project combined NOR the Utah Hydrogen Project collaborating together will produce enough hydrogen to satisfy the upcoming 30 GWs of clean power needed for the state of California by 2045. The "Four Hydrogen Hubs" in the US outlined in President Biden's "Build Back Better" program is not defined by "A FACILITY" but rather "A REGION". Utah as a whole meets that criteria. With the Montana Chapter of this Utah facility - once up and running - will triple the capacity of the Western Region in hydrogen production.
California presently imports 30% of its power. Producing hydrogen out-of-state and shipping interstate via existing commerce right of ways will accelerate the ability of California to reach its lofty goals of Zero-carbon energy resources by 2045. With the increase of population and rising energy demand of the state of California - producing energy resources and clean fuels out of state is the only solution due to the limitations of available land required to develop 30 GWs of power generation. With the ban of new gas cars sales by 2035 - the energy required to charge BEVs will jump exponentially. The existing power grid will be unable to handle the energy draw charging millions of vehicles around the clock - come rain, shine, windless nights or tsunami - there will be grid anarchy for BEV owners and grid operators.
Producing hydrogen in Utah with all the fossil based - with Carbon Capture and Utilization - and non-fossil based resources available in the state, the land availability and far less population density - coupled with the geographical close proximity - the Western Regional Hydrogen Hub will be developed here in the state of Utah - particularly in Milliard, Emery and Carbon counties. Not only will this vast hydrogen hub serve the purpose of exporting hydrogen to California but it will also serve as a base camp supply chain of hydrogen for the entire western region that also connects the trifecta of Utah, Nevada and California along the I-15 corridor. This hydrogen hub will allow an expeditious process of development due to the vast open space and available power supply. As we develop the Utah Hydrogen Project meeting increasing demand in the western region storage of hydrogen becomes a big issue. With access to 13.5 billion cubic feet of underground capacity to be developed here locally - the entire equation for base load energy supply will establish Utah as the leading state for both hydrogen supplies and low carbon, low emission hydrogen and hydrogen based liquid fuels.
In an article published by CNBC, "The Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project aims to build a storage facility for 1,000 megawatts of clean power, partly by putting hydrogen into underground salt caverns. Last year, Mitsubishi Power, a maker of gas turbines, and Magnum Development, which owns salt caverns for liquid fuel storage, announced the project will combine technologies such as renewable hydrogen, solid-oxide fuel cells, and compressed air energy storage. The storage facility would initially have enough energy to power 150,000 households for one year. Scheduled to be operational by 2025, the first phase of the Advanced Clean Energy Storage project will provide 150,000 MWh of renewable power storage capacity, nearly 150 times the current U.S. installed lithium-ion battery storage base, according to Mitsubishi Power." The storage capacity of 13.5 billion cubic feet at the Utah Hydrogen Project equates to 10 X the capacity of the ACES project. This is a "hydrogen storage breakthrough" in the western region.
The Western Region Hydrogen Hub is a perfect example of "Necessity is the mother of all invention" - for more reasons than just a regional hydrogen supply. The two week long Texas freeze out death toll of 246 taught us a lot about preparedness - a lesson from the survival book, "Redundancy Just In Case"! Canada and the week long heat wave that killed 595 and set off 180 wild fires in B.C. Canada had the same message line. Be Prepared! Like IPP without a redundant back up or a "Plan B" - knowing how sensitive the hydrogen supply is to make it a successful operation - the IPP project is susceptible to the "when and where" catastrophe of Canada and Texas.