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DOE reports progress on development of low-carbon and renewable sources of hydrogen production

The US Department of Energy (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office’ (FCTO) 2014 Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program Annual Progress Report (earlier post)—an annual summary of results from projects funded by DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program—described progress in the field of hydrogen production.

The objective of the Hydrogen Production sub-program is to reduce the cost of hydrogen dispensed at the pump to a cost that is competitive on a cents-per-mile basis with competing vehicle technologies. Based on current analysis, this translates to a hydrogen threshold cost of <$4 per kg hydrogen (produced, delivered, and dispensed, but untaxed) by 2020, apportioned to <$2/kg for production only.

H2prod
Range of hydrogen production costs, untaxed, for near- to mid-term distributed and centralized pathways. The high end of each bar represents a pathway-specific high feedstock cost as well as an escalation of capital cost; while the low end reflects a low end on feedstock costs and no capital escalation. Bars for different years in the same pathway represent improvements in the costs of the specific pathway, based on specific reference data for the appropriate year and pathway. Source: DOE. Click to enlarge.

For FY 2014, the Hydrogen Production sub-program continued to focus on developing technologies to enable the long-term viability of hydrogen as an energy carrier for a range of applications with a focus on hydrogen from low-carbon and renewable sources. Progress continued in several key areas, including electrolysis, photoelectrochemical (PEC), biological, and solar-thermochemical hydrogen production.

There are multiple DOE offices are engaged in R&D relevant to hydrogen production. FCTO’s focus is developing technologies for distributed and centralized renewable production of hydrogen. Distributed production options under development include reforming of bio-derived renewable liquids and electrolysis of water. Centralized renewable production options include water electrolysis integrated with renewable power generation (e.g., wind, solar, hydroelectric, and geothermal power), biomass gasification, solar-driven high- temperature thermochemical water splitting, direct photoelectrochemical water splitting, and biological processes.

In addition:

  • The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) is advancing the technologies needed to produce hydrogen from coal-derived synthesis gas, including co-production of hydrogen and electricity. Separate from the Hydrogen and Fuel Cells Program, FE is also developing technologies for carbon capture, utilization, and storage, which could eventually enable hydrogen production from coal to be a near-zero-emissions pathway.

  • The Office of Science’s Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program conducts research to expand the fundamental understanding of biological and biomimetic hydrogen production, photoelectrochemical water splitting, catalysis, and membranes for gas separation.

  • The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) is currently collaborating with EERE on a study of nuclear-renewable hybrid energy systems. Many of the systems being evaluated by this study use hydrogen production as a form of energy storage or as an input to industrial processes. The previous major hydrogen activity in NE, the Nuclear Hydrogen Initiative, was discontinued in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 after steam electrolysis was chosen as the hydrogen production pathway most compatible with the next generation nuclear power.

In FY 2014, the major emphasis of the electrolysis activities were cost reduction and efficiency improvement through leveraging fuel cell catalyst development. Among the developments here were:

  • A nano-structured thin film catalyst anode technology was tested under electrolysis conditions and demonstrated comparable performance at 1/16th of the anode PGM loading relative to a 2013 baseline.

  • The manufacture of core shell catalyst technology developed by Brookhaven National Laboratory was successfully transferred to its facility and achieved equivalent cathode performance at 1/10th of the cathode PGM loading relative to the 2013 baseline.

  • An improved drying technique was developed with the potential to reduce drying losses in electrolyzers to less than 3.5% (compared with 11-8% in commercial systems) while operating on a variable (wind or solar) stack power profile. Testing is in progress to verify that the new technique meets SAE International Standard J2719 specifications for water content (<5 ppm).

In the area of photoelectrochemical (PEC) hydrogen production, semiconductor tandem devices were shown to have more than 300 hours of stability at ~15 mA/cm2 in III-V semiconductor photoelectrochemical tandem devices, showing a significant improvement over the previous year’s 115 hours at 10 mA/cm2. This result represents an important step toward demonstration of stabilized solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiencies >20% using PEC devices.

In the area of biological hydrogen production, a larger, more scalable microbial reverse-electrodialysis cell design demonstrated a 0.9 L/L-reactor/day hydrogen production rate, a 12.5% increase over the 2013 demonstrated rate, using a salinity gradient instead of grid electricity. Other technical progress in this area included:

  • Increased activity of the Chlamydomonas strain was demonstrated expressing the Ca1 hydrogenase from 2% to about 11% of the native hydrogenase, with a duration of 30 minutes or more.

  • The genome of the bacterium Rubrivivax gelatinosus Casa Bonita Strain (CBS) was examined for candidate genes to transfer to the cyanobacteria Synechocystis to improve the expression and activity of the non-native CBS hydrogenase enzyme. The researchers identified slyD, involved in binding and inserting Ni into the hydrogenase active site, as a likely gene as it is present in CBS but absent in Synechocystis. Researchers also improved the Synechocystis expression of the CBS maturation protein HypF, which is involved in assembling the active hydrogenase enzyme, up to nine-fold.

  • The truncated light-harvesting antenna concept was applied to cyanobacteria, demonstrating that a Δcpc strain of Synechocystis, which is missing the phycobilisome portion of the photosynthetic antenna, can reach higher light levels before saturation than the wild type and has 55-60% greater rates of biomass accumulation.

Efforts in solar-thermochemical hydrogen characterized the performance of water splitting by novel, non-volatile metal-oxide based reaction materials and developed new reactor concepts to optimize efficiency of the reaction cycles. Other progress included:

  • Over three times improvement in hydrogen production was demonstrated relative to 2013 results of 100 micromole/g for isothermal operation at 1,350 ˚C for hercynite cycle materials using near-isothermal reduction/oxidation cycling.

  • Integration of major components into a pressurized button cell test facility was completed for the electrolysis step of the Hybrid Sulfur thermochemical cycle that will allow testing of catalysts and membranes at pressures up to 1 MPa and temperatures of 130oC. The team identified and screened electrocatalysts with the potential to reduce oxidation overpotential by >20 mV versus the state-of-the-art platinum catalyst. Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) also tested thin-film electrodes as candidate anode electrocatalysts, including Pt, Pd, Ir, Au, PtAu, and PtV. Au, PtAu and PtV showed 28 mV, 46 mV, and 13 mV reduction, respectively, on the anode polarization versus state-of-the-art Pt catalyst.

Pathway-specific milestones planned for FY 2015 in the Hydrogen Production sub-program projects include:

  • Demonstrate fermentation of deacetylated corn stover lignocellulose in a sequencing fed-batch bioreactor and obtain a hydrogen production rate of 450 mL H2/L/d with a total hydrogen output of 80% of that of avicel cellulose based on the same amount of cellulose loading (5 g/L).

  • Deliver 100 feet of roll-to-roll produced electrolysis catalyst with a durability of <20 mV drop after 1,000 hours of operation at 1.5 A/cm2, and with a total PGM loading of less than 0.5 mg/cm2.

  • Demonstrate the viability of stabilized photoelectrochemical systems with >15% solar-to-hydrogen efficiency using advanced tandem devices based on either III-V crystalline semiconductor or chalcopyrite thin-film semiconductor materials.

  • Develop a monolith reactor concept for integration of steam reforming reactions with in situ carbon dioxide capture and heat transfer for high-throughput hydrogen production from bio-oils. Identify optimum reforming catalysts and sorbents for >80% of equilibrium hydrogen yield at T <500°C, and >90% carbon dioxide capture under reaction conditions.

  • Continue development of conceptual designs for fully integrated solar thermochemical prototype reactors and synthesis and evaluation of perovskite and hercynite reaction materials. Demonstrate the production of spray-dried active materials that produce at least 150 μmol H2/g total and reduction of at least 1 gram of oxidized spray-dried active materials under vacuum pumping to remove released O2, and oxidation of at least 1 gram reduced spray- dried active materials with steam to produce hydrogen.

  • Completion of H2A v3 case studies for bio-fermentation and high-temperature solid oxide electrolysis hydrogen production pathways.

Comments

Mike999

After AU started charging Solar homeowners, they simply switched to dumping their excess solar into their Hot Water Tanks, which of course reduced their electric or natural gas demand, what ever they previously used for hot water storage, to electricity.

Roger Pham

@Mike,
Hydrogen Hoax? Get a grip!
H2-FC, as a Hydrogen-Air flow battery, can deliver 1000-1,500 Wh per liter and per kg, while costing $10-15 per kWh of capacity for the H2 tank. When will Lithium Ion, or even Lithium Air battery deliver that kind of performance?
At pack level, the best of automotive Li-ion now can deliver only 150 Wh/kg and ~400 Wh per liter, at $230 per kWh at this moment.

Eventually, each roof top PV system can store some solar energy in battery for nightly use, and the rest as H2 to flow into the H2 local piping system for winter storage in underground caverns. The waste heat of electrolysis in summer, spring and fall can be used for hot water heating. Winter use of H2 for combined heat and power plus the use of waste heat from electrolysis will result in round-trip efficiency approaching 100%. There will be no energy storage system that will get more energy efficient than that!

When the H2 will be stored in bulk quantities in underground geologic caverns, empty salt mines, or empty NG or oil wells, the cost per kWh of storage capacity will be only pennies. Pennies per kWh of capacity!

Bob Wallace

We don't need seasonal storage. We need storage for a few days at a time. The number of days is an unknown and will remain so as we build out our grids and interconnect them.

Right now it looks like batteries will be the affordable answer for perhaps a few days storage. If we need power out further then we'll likely turn to some sort of dispatchable generation such as natural gas, biofuel or H2.

So far this year (end of week 44) Germany would have needed longer term storage during one week. That power could have easily been put away during the previous few weeks. By the following week wind and solar were back up and producing closer to the annual average. During even the low week wind and solar produced over half of average annual output.

Where the cutoff is between "3" and "7" will change over time. Cheaper storage will extend the "3". Cheaper dispatchable generation will lower the "7".

Whether it would make sense for Germany to over-build wind/solar, buy hydro from Sweden, buy stored hydro from Switzerland or Austria, buy wind from the UK, or buy solar from southern Europe needs to be considered along with storage calculations. As we extend our grids we lower variability and allow for shared storage.

Bob Wallace

There are multiple long range freight options. H2 FCEV is one.

Electrify our rail system and use it rather than long haul trucks. Use battery trucks for "the last mile". (The Tras-Siberian railway is electric and runs about twice the width of the US.)

Someone calculated that three Tesla S battery packs would power a loaded 18 wheeler 100 miles. With a few more years of capacity increase we could probably have 200 mile 18-wheelers and use battery swapping. Pull into a swapping bay and drive out charged in less than two minutes.

We've got trucks running on overhead wires similar to urban electric trolleys. If enough power could be delivered it might be possible to install wires every few miles along our major highways and let trucks charge up and then run on batteries in between overheads. Super-capacitors would likely come into play here.

South Korea has full sized buses running on wireless charging embedded under about 10% of the 18 mile route. Perhaps enough power could be delivered this way to keep trucks rolling and charging.

I suspect we'll see several ideas tried out over the next few years. I'm kind of partial to electrified rail. That would take a lot of traffic off our roads and greatly reduce road damage, saving us a lot in highway expansion and repair. We're going to be freeing up rail space as we phase out coal and petroleum.

Roger Pham

@Bob, who stated:
>>>"We don't need seasonal storage. We need storage for a few days at a time. "

Bob, just because you live in SoCal and have mild winters and plenty of winter sunshine doesn't mean that those in Northern USA and Canada will have mild or sunny winters.
Up North, the electric bills are about the same winters and summers, while the Natgas bills are practically nil in summers but real high in winters.
A lot of energy will be needed for heating in winters.
How to avoid the use of Nat Gas and Coal for winter heating? Answer: use Hydrogen. For heating purposes, H2 has nearly 100% efficiency.

In winters, sunny days will be far and few in between and very short, thus a real short fall in solar energy, while wind may not blow for days...Solar energy up North will be in real short supply in winters.
What to do to get power and keep warm? Answer: Distributed power and heat co-generation via fuel cells.

AN INDUSTRIAL ECONOMY CANNOT DEPEND ON INTERMITTENCY OF SUN AND WIND. A large source of renewable fuel will be needed for dispatchable power to run industry and civilization.

Engineer-Poet

What Bob won't tell you is that storage is so energy-intensive that PV can only allocate about 24 hours worth before the system is a net energy consumer... and we need an EROI of at least 7:1 to maintain civilization.  In other words, you can forget storing days of PV output against cloudy periods and keeping everything going.

Another calculation shows that the PV industry was a net energy consumer through the year 2010.  In other words, it increased global GHGs.

Nuclear energy has an EROI in excess of 100.  This is why the fossil industry has been trying to kill it (using faked science and "environmentalist" front groups) for over 5 decades.

Bob Wallace

Roger, the north has lot of hydro and wind in the winter. Solar will play a smaller role there just as hydro will play a smaller role in the SW.
--

I wonder how long it will take that flawed "EROEI to maintain civilization" paper to run its course and fade away?

EROEI is important if one is dealing with a finite and diminishing source of energy such as petroleum. It's of minor importance if one is utilizing essentially unlimited energy sources such as wind and sunshine.

Energy, with wind, solar and storage, is one part of the overall cost. As long as the total cost of energy, materials, labor, etc. are low enough for the electricity out to be affordable that's all that matters.

BTW, wind turbines return the cradle to grave energy embedded in them in 3 to 8 months (depending on resources at site) and then produce electricity for 20 to 30 years more.

That's a EROEI of 30 (20 years / 8 months) to 120 (30 years / 3 months).

Solar panels return their embedded in energy in less than two years and last 20 to 40 or more years. An EROEI of 10+ to 40+.

If storage is affordable then it cannot have an excess of embedded energy. That's simple math.

(Here's a hint. The flawed paper charged wind and solar with storage but did not do the same for coal and nuclear.) Plus the authors did not understand when EROEI is important and when it really isn't.

Engineer-Poet
the north has lot of hydro and wind in the winter.

Bob, I've been in the "polar vortex" area in the cold snaps.  There's next to no wind in these, and the hydro potential is nil given that the precipitation is solid if it happens at all.  If you relied on wind, solar and hydro in these periods, you would freeze to death.  Is that what you prescribe for humanity in the temperate zone?

I wonder how long it will take that flawed "EROEI to maintain civilization" paper to run its course and fade away?

You'll have to disprove its conclusions.  Evidence suggests that's not happening.

EROEI is important if one is dealing with a finite and diminishing source of energy such as petroleum. It's of minor importance if one is utilizing essentially unlimited energy sources such as wind and sunshine.

EROEI is essential for everything.  If you invest in an energy-capturing resource that lasts 10 years but it doesn't return its invested energy for 20, you are screwed.

As long as the total cost of energy, materials, labor, etc. are low enough for the electricity out to be affordable that's all that matters.

Weasel-wording.  Tries to evade the issue of embodied energy in materials and labor.  The laborer needs enough energy to heat the domicile, cook the food, wash the dishes and clothing, provide the purchased goods (including their embodied labor) and get to and from work.  If you can't supply enough energy to the laborer and still have a large surplus, you are Doing It Wrong.

wind turbines return the cradle to grave energy embedded in them in 3 to 8 months (depending on resources at site) and then produce electricity for 20 to 30 years more.

Likely true, but they don't buffer their own energy to match demand.  That's a much more difficult, and energy-intensive, problem.

Solar panels return their embedded in energy in less than two years and last 20 to 40 or more years.

Solar plus battery storage is not nearly so attractive.  I've spent some time pricing batteries lately; I know.

If storage is affordable then it cannot have an excess of embedded energy.

Guess what!  Storage isn't affordable.  This is why so many laws mandate "net metering" and feed-in tariffs, which obviate it.

The flawed paper charged wind and solar with storage but did not do the same for coal and nuclear.

If you had the brains of a halfwit you might realize that coal and uranium ARE stores of energy, which can be tapped on demand.  A continuous flow is much more valuable than an intermittent flow, and a source available on demand is most valuable of all.

HarveyD

E-P is not always right.

Our network is 95% Hydro and 5% Wind and we never run out of e-power during our very long cold winters, even if over 75% of our homes are heated with clean electricity.

Very large water reservoirs can store energy for many months. Wind turbines produce much more during winter months.

We also supply Vermont State and part of Conn and NY with low cost ($0.06/kWh). We will soon supply Ontario with enough clean low cost ($0.06/kWh) electricity to allow the shut down (or replacement) of 3 to 4 of their old Candu NPPs.

Roger Pham

@EP,
Battery is so energy-intensive to make that it would not be sustainable to use it for more than 24 hrs of e-storage. However, battery is only needed for 1/2 a day to cover the time of day without sun.

Longer period of energy storage is best stored in H2, in local piping system connected to massive underground geologic-formation storage. Since depleted oil and gas well and salt mine are already there to be used, the cost per kWh of capacity will be very small, and energy used to prepare very little.

@Bob and Harvey,
Hydro and wind may work for thinly populated Canada, but not for high population density like Japan, Korea, China, India, Indonesia, etc where the population density are >10x that of Canada and even USA. China maxed out its Hydroelectricity resources but is still burning coal like there's no tomorrow! Japan and Korea are not known to have much hydro or wind resources. Only solar energy can be scaled up sufficiently for highly-populated countries.

Bob Wallace

Actually wind farms helped the US through the polar vortex events. Google "wind electricity polar vortex" and do some reading.

- EROEI is essential for everything. If you invest in an energy-capturing resource that lasts 10 years but it doesn't return its invested energy for 20, you are screwed.

Why do you feel it necessary to make a ridiculous argument? You said that a minimum EROEI of 7 was necessary. Now you've shifted the argument to a negative EROEI.

And there's this jewel - I state

- As long as the total cost of energy, materials, labor, etc. are low enough for the electricity out to be affordable that's all that matters.

and you reply

- Weasel-wording. Tries to evade the issue of embodied energy in materials and labor.

How could a rational person make the claim that I was trying to avoid the issue of embodied energy in materials simply because I didn't inventory all the places energy would be used in the overall process?

- Likely true, but they don't buffer their own energy to match demand.

And nuclear plants don't buffer their own energy to match demand. That's where the Weibach paper fails. It treats nuclear and coal as if they need no backup nor ancillary services to deal with demand matching.

Sorry, storage is affordable. We've been using storage on our grids for 100 years in the form of pump-up hydro. And we are now seeing other technologies entering the game.

- A continuous flow is much more valuable than an intermittent flow, and a source available on demand is most valuable of all.

There is some truth in that.

However a continuous flow has no value when the power isn't needed. That's why paid off nuclear reactors are going bankrupt.

And dispatchable generation is the most preferred but if the cost per kWh is high we will look for cheaper sources, even if the are "unreliable", and use them first.

Coal and uranium as well as sunshine are stored power. But it is beyond our ability to store more in those fashions. We are going to use more pedestrian storage technologies.

Bob Wallace

Roger, this

- Battery is so energy-intensive to make that it would not be sustainable to use it for more than 24 hrs of e-storage.

appears to be incorrect. We'll know for sure very soon. EOS Energy Systems batteries are now being tested on the grid and are expected to store electricity at an affordable cost for up to 3 days.

Vanadium redox flow batteries are now up and running, will likely be cheaper. Liquid metal battery prototypes are being tested on the grid and should be cheaper still.

Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia and India are installing wind as well as solar. Japan has excellent wind resources off its east coast and has started building floating wind farms.

Indonesia is also installing geothermal.

H2 is one option for grid deep backup. There are others.

Bob Wallace

Roger, this

- Battery is so energy-intensive to make that it would not be sustainable to use it for more than 24 hrs of e-storage.

appears to be incorrect. We'll know for sure very soon. EOS Energy Systems batteries are now being tested on the grid and are expected to store electricity at an affordable cost for up to 3 days.

Vanadium redox flow batteries are now up and running, will likely be cheaper. Liquid metal battery prototypes are being tested on the grid and should be cheaper still.

Japan, China, Korea, Indonesia and India are installing wind as well as solar. Japan has excellent wind resources off its east coast and has started building floating wind farms.

Indonesia is also installing geothermal.

H2 is one option for grid deep backup. There are others.

Lad

How about the extreme pressures hydrogen systems require, about 10,000 psi.

Can you imagine how fast hydrogen will empty out of a tank at these pressures. Or, how about having motorists filling up their own tanks at service stations; how about fuel trucks transferring hydrogen to station tanks; Mechanics trying to repair a fuel leak; the EPA already requires constant inspection of propane tanks at much less pressures; might take robots to fill tanks somewhat safely.

And, we worry about air bags, really!, what happens when one of these babies explodes?

Working with hydrogen seems really unsafe, really involved and a whole lot more complicated than plugging in a BEV.

Please don't tell me of all the safety devices and safeguards surrounding using hydrogen; I've heard about them. I just know people will be involved and when you have this environment, Murphy's law applies.

Engineer-Poet
Longer period of energy storage is best stored in H2, in local piping system connected to massive underground geologic-formation storage.

Roger, AFAICT storage beyond a few hours is a loser.  We can produce carbon-free energy with a vastly smaller ecological footprint than any "renewable" sources.  If we are concerned about the effect we have on the environment, we have to stop assuming that vast fields of wind and solar collectors are acceptable even if we can stash away their production for periods of deficit.

Engineer-Poet

And the crazed kick-banner tries to justify his position with this:

Actually wind farms helped the US through the polar vortex events.

Bob, nuclear became the largest electric provider in New England during the vortex.  It is the one source of generation that cannot be interrupted or diverted.  It even benefits from the cold, as lower condenser temperatures increase system power output.

Why do you feel it necessary to make a ridiculous argument?

When people make ridiculous arguments, I'm inclined to rebut them.

nuclear plants don't buffer their own energy to match demand.

Nuclear plants have buffers of literally billions of megawatt-hours of electricity at the time they load new fuel.  They could vary their production from these buffers, if it made sense.  So long as most energy generation is from fossil fuels, it doesn't.  You need to get closer to the grid mix of France before it makes sense to follow load with nuclear plants.

Sorry, storage is affordable.

If it was affordable in bulk there would be far more of it, and you're not sorry for lying about it.

a continuous flow has no value when the power isn't needed.

Unreliable generation has even less value, but you insist that it be paid premium prices for it anyway.  How about abolishing the PTC when grid prices drop below it?

paid off nuclear reactors are going bankrupt.

No unsubsidized generator can compete against subsidized ones.  The outcome is rigged by subsidies.

Coal and uranium as well as sunshine are stored power.

Holy crap, you just said SUNSHINE is stored power!  You really are insane.

EOS Energy Systems batteries are now being tested on the grid and are expected to store electricity at an affordable cost for up to 3 days.

EOS claims $1000/kW, $167/kWh.  Storing 3 days of power (72 hr) is $12,000/kW, plus the cost of generation.  You keep using the word "affordable"; I do not think it means what you think it means.

Un-ban me from Cleantechnica and let's talk turkey.

Bob Wallace

Wind steps in during the polar vortex - written by a nuclear advocate.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/01/12/polar-vortex-nuclear-saves-the-day/

And some more from a business oriented site.

http://www.sustainablebusiness.com/index.cfm/go/news.display/id/25434

Nuclear reactors are forced offline by floods and heat waves.
---

You acknowledge that nuclear needs backup when it is off line. You omit the need for storage to allow time-shifting. Both of those "buffers" were charged to wind and solar but not to nuclear in the flawed buffering/EROEI paper.
---

PuHS is affordable. Batteries have now become affordable in some locations. The major reason we don't have more storage is because we just don'w need much. That need will grow over time.
---

A mix of inexpensive "unreliable" and affordable storage/NG is cheaper than continuous new nuclear.
--

Kewaunee didn't go out of business because of subsidized wind. Kewaunee went out of business because cheaper NG took away its market. Now non-subsidized wind is as cheap or cheaper than NG.
--

If you're going to call uranium stored power then you have to extend that to sunshine.
--

My math says that if the cost of EOS batteries is $160/kWh, the battery is financed for 20 years at 6%, and input power is $0.04/kWh then the stored power after 3 days costs $0.167/kWh. That is probably starting to push into NG's territory.

Again, storage in PuHS is affordable. It looks like we are getting to the place where one to two day storage with batteries is becoming affordable. EOS should store for 2 days for $0.129.

Engineer-Poet
Wind steps in during the polar vortex - written by a nuclear advocate.

Quoting your cite:

Nuclear energy ... became the primary provider of electricity in New England, just edging out gas 29% to 27%....
In Nebraska ... the utilities brought wind onto the grid to provide 13% of demand

So nuclear, the energy source you malign and have attacked probably for decades (and which has not been allowed any growth until the energy act of 2005, the benefits of which we have still not yet enjoyed) provided more than twice the fraction of generation in New England than wind did in Nebraska.

Why don't you stop maligning, attacking and blocking nuclear, in order to Get The Carbon Out?  Or do you care more about eliminating nuclear power than saving the climate?

You acknowledge that nuclear needs backup when it is off line.

Nuclear is seldom off-line except for scheduled refueling and maintenance.  These procedures are scheduled for low-demand periods.  Your chronic complaint about nuclear isn't that it's not available, but that it's too available and can't be ramped down when your unreliables flare up.

A mix of inexpensive "unreliable" and affordable storage/NG is cheaper than continuous new nuclear.

Prove it.  Add a reasonable carbon price, like $50/ton.

If you're going to call uranium stored power then you have to extend that to sunshine.

Coal, oil and natural gas are "stored sunshine".  They're also filthy.  Uranium is stored supernova power and has no carbon associated with it; so's thorium.

My math says that if the cost of EOS batteries is $160/kWh, the battery is financed for 20 years at 6%, and input power is $0.04/kWh then the stored power after 3 days costs $0.167/kWh.

Your math doesn't explicitly state the number of cycles per year.  3 days of what?

OOCalc says PMT(0.06/12;120;-167;0)*12 is 22.25, or $22.25/kWh/year to amortize.  If charged for 3 days and discharged for 3 days (365/6 cycles/year) that's 37¢/kWh for storage.  Input power at 4¢/kWh (minus 25% losses, making it 5.3¢) costs 42.3¢/kWh on the discharge side.  New York peakers are quite competitive with this, and they're already built and probably paid for.

Engineer-Poet

Sorry, I screwed up the amortization period.  Revised figures follow.

OOCalc says PMT(0.06/12;240;-167;0)*12 is 14.36, or $14.36/kWh/year to amortize.  If charged for 3 days and discharged for 3 days (365/6 cycles/year) that's 24¢/kWh for storage.  Input power at 4¢/kWh (minus 25% losses, making it 5.3¢) costs 29.3¢/kWh on the discharge side.

NG at $15/mmBTU, burned at 40% efficiency, costs about 12.5¢/kWh.  Any amortized peakers out there are going to be tough competitors for EOS.  You'll need a stiff carbon tax to keep them off-line until they're absolutely needed.  Worst of all, during the highest-demand periods like last winter's polar vortex, the EOS batteries will be drained and the NG will have been diverted to heating.  If you haven't set aside a renewable fuel like pyrolysis oil, you'll be burning #2 fuel oil or even jet fuel.  Good luck with that, you'll need it.

Roger Pham

The most important factor is geology.
For locations with unreliable solar and wind, nuclear is an important part of energy portfolio.
Where solar is reliable, like in Calif and desert Southwest, it is now economical to store daily solar power in battery for night use. If cycled daily and with 10,000-cycle batteries, stored solar is now cost-competitive.
Likewise, where wind is steady, wind can provide baseload power and stand-by NG plants can serve as backup.

Where wind and solar are unreliable but are present in sufficient, H2 comes into play. At the cost of only a few hundred USD per kW, electrolyzers can economically standby to absorb the excess output of solar and wind costing thousands of USD per kW. H2 may be more lossy than battery, but much cheaper than battery per kWh of capacity, so where battery is not charged and discharged daily, but weekly, amortization cost will not be recuperated, and H2 will be cheaper.

H2's efficiency can be improved when waste heat can be utilized, even where solar is reliable and discharged daily. For example, places where process heat or hot water is needed can utilize heat released during electrolysis. The H2 will be released into community piping system so that home-based FC can use H2 in the evening and the waste heat can be used for hot water for dish washing, laundry, and bathing after dinner.

Likewise, where nuclear is used as baseload, H2 can be used to absorb excess nuclear power at night, or PEV's can be charged at night, but PEV's are still too expensive. Thousands of USD per kW of nuclear can practically be buffered by H2 electrolyzers costing only a few hundred USD per kW, and pennies per kWh of capacity for H2 storage!

Bob Wallace

Sorry, E-P, I'm not getting into a nuclear argument with you and your anger control problem.

It really doesn't matter how you try to justify nuclear energy, it's dead. No reactor gets built except with very heavy government support and now governments are recognizing that there are cheaper alternatives. And that the private sector is building that cheaper generation. Governments aren't going to spend precious tax dollars if there's no need. There are too many other things that need those funds.

HarveyD

Too many posters embellish or discount facts to better sell their argument.

Without using exact ever changing figures:

1. Electricity production cost from refurbished and/or new NPPs is going up and up again.

2. Production cost from Solar and Wind is going down and down again.

3. Renewable Energy conversion efficiency is going up and up again.

4. Energy storage cost is also going down and down again.

5. The H2 cycle is starting to make sense as an e-energy storage media and as a clean fuel for large fixed FCs and mobile FCs.

6. Solar and Wind energies are taking a larger share of the market while NPPs are not.

Roger Pham

@Harvey,
Again, geography is at play here. Wind and solar and hydro are low in cost only in regions that have plenty of those and are reliable and predictable. If not, nuclear energy will be needed.

Small modular nuclear reactors may be used to replace coal plants, then, they will be thrown into the deep ocean where they will remained entombed in glass forever. These can be built in assembly lines on automated factories to keep cost down. On-site built nuclear plants are expensive due to all red tapes and modifications, but not factory-built modular reactors, nuclear energy cost will be competitive.

Nuclear, wind, and hydrogen will be perfect for northern regions poor in solar resource. The hydrogen will buffer excess wind and nuclear energy to make transportation fuels and home power and heating energy.

Bob Wallace

Roger, you so love hydrogen. Do you understand that you are infatuated with a storage technology with less than 50% efficiency?

Because of hydrogen's low efficiency it would be an expensive way to store electricity. It will probably have difficulty competing in the market. Time will tell, but best be ready to have your heart broken.

(And nuclear, big or small, just too expensive. I'm afraid you're in love with things we can't afford.)

Roger Pham

Bob stated: "Roger, you so love hydrogen. Do you understand that you are infatuated with a storage technology with less than 50% efficiency?"

I've discussed above that H2 storage can approach 100% round-trip efficiency when the waste heat is being used on both electrolysis and fuel cell.

And, real-life situation with both distributed electrolysis and distributed power generation, waste heat can be utilized. With some tweaking, electrolysis can be done at above 100 degrees C whereby process steam can be made from waste heat. Hospitals, hotels, spas, restaurants, food processing, laundromats etc... all need a lot of low quality heat that can be supplied by nearby electrolyzers.

Evening power can be supplied by home-based fuel cells whereby waste heat can be used to provide hot water for cooking, dish washing, laundry, and ...hot lavish tub bath where one can indulge in the soothing suds to ease all the day's stress and strain...

So, where there will be a steady supply of solar and wind energy in any seasons, the waste heat can be used, and stored in hot water tanks for later use. Thermal energy storage is very cheap. Summer excess solar power can be used to make ice in the am to noon for home cooling later in the days, while waste heat from hone fuel cells for home electricity use will be used to provide hot water. Notice that in the summer time, the night is short, so less fuel cell energy will be needed, while less energy will be needed for hot water heating. Perfect. Winter home heating with Fuel cell-waste heat and fuel-cell-powered heat pump will be uber-efficient, above and beyond any thing else imaginable!

Now, since battery grid energy storage is still much more expensive (10x) than H2 per unit of kW and kWh, even the "lossy" H2 energy storage sans heat utilization will still be less expensive than the amortization cost of grid battery storage. Afterall, solar and wind energy will be very low in cost. With heat utilization, H2 will be unbeatable in both efficiency and cost.

The above is not fantasy, but being pursued by Japan and Germany, the two leaders in technology and economy in Europe and Asia. Hence all the push for FCEV's from Japan, Korea, and Germany. Wake up, Mr. Bob! Hello!

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