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Toyota to build first MW-scale 100% renewable power and hydrogen generation station

At the Los Angeles Auto Show, Toyota Motor North America announced that it will build the world’s first megawatt-scale carbonate fuel cell power generation plant with a hydrogen fueling station to support its operations at the Port of Long Beach. The Tri-Gen facility will use bio-waste sourced from California agricultural waste to generate water, electricity and hydrogen.

When it comes online in 2020, Tri-Gen will generate approximately 2.35 MW of electricity and 1.2 tons of hydrogen per day, enough to power the equivalent of about 2,350 average-sized homes and meet the daily driving needs of nearly 1,500 vehicles.

The power generation facility will be 100% renewable, supplying Toyota Logistics Services’ (TLS) operations at the Port and making them the first Toyota facility in North America to use 100% renewable power.

For more than twenty years, Toyota has been leading the development of fuel cell technology because we understand the tremendous potential to reduce emissions and improve society. Tri-Gen is a major step forward for sustainable mobility and a key accomplishment of our 2050 Environmental Challenge to achieve net zero CO2 emissions from our operations.

—Doug Murtha, Group Vice President-Strategic Planning

Tri-Gen is a key step forward in Toyota’s work to develop a hydrogen society. In addition to serving as a key proof-of-concept for 100% renewable, local hydrogen generation at scale, the facility will supply all Toyota fuel cell vehicles moving through the Port, including new deliveries of the Mirai sedan and Toyota’s Heavy Duty hydrogen fuel cell class 8 truck, known as Project Portal. (Earlier post.) To support these refueling operations, Toyota has also built one of the largest hydrogen fueling stations in the world on-site with the help of Air Liquide.

Tri-Gen has been developed by FuelCell Energy with the support of the US Department of Energy, California agencies including the California Air Resources Board, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Orange County Sanitation District, and the University of California at Irvine, whose research helped develop the core technology.

The facility exceeds California’s strict air quality standards and advances the overall goals of the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, and the Air Quality Management Districts of the South Coast and the Bay Area, who have been leaders in the work to reduce emissions and improve air quality.

Going forward, Toyota remains committed to supporting the development of a consumer-facing hydrogen infrastructure to realize the potential of fuel cell vehicles. Thirty-one retail hydrogen stations are now open for business in California, and Toyota continues to partner with a broad range of companies to develop new stations. That includes a partnership with Shell that represents the first such collaboration between a major automotive and major oil company.



As Cheeseater says, there are one heck of a lot of hydrogen production techniques either using renewables or with inherent carbon capture coming down the turnpike.

And the notion that biogas because it can't cover everything is a fake solution is not accurate.

On the DOE website there are cost estimates of various production and distribution technologies from all sorts of sources, and about the earliest likely to be fully cost competitive against hydrogen from NG reforming is biogas.

So Toyota are adopting a pragmatic policy of utilising the most currently competitive technology which is zero emission.

I don't see how they can realistically be faulted for that.

Demands for universal solutions right now with no staging posts are not realistic.

We are on the verge of significantly cheaper/ more efficient hydrogen. We have a way to reform it with very little waste.

Almost 60% of the output comes as electrical power.  If you posit that the FCs that the H2 feeds are probably about 60% efficient, the useful output is 2.35 MW(e) via the MCFC and just under 1 MW via the H2.  We are not told how much is lost as heat, nor is any heat-recovery system mentioned.

From the figures given, the system could run 2+ EVs for every FCEV its hydrogen could power.

Efficiency doesn't matter.

Of course it matters.  The inputs are scarce compared to our consumption.  If the system is grossly inefficient, it cannot make a significant contribution to our needs and the effort should spent elsewhere.  Simply cleaning up the gas to turbine quality and burning it in a CCGT plant would be better than playing with inefficient poly-generation schemes.

hydrogen is very easy to distribute, they can add it to natural gas lines

The limit of concentration is a few percent by volume (which comes to about 1/3 as much by energy).

They have means of syphoning it off from the natural gas lines.

To avoid wasting this costly hydrogen, you'd have to process the entire gas stream and extract as much of the H2 as possible before sending it on.  This would increase the concentration limit in transport as the H2 ceiling at end use wouldn't apply, but you'd still be limited by the pipeline compressors and their need to have a certain minimum density to achieve their rated output pressure.  Actual energy transport through the pipeline would go down due to lower volumetric energy density.

This is a whole lot of whoop-te-do over very little, which is exactly what greenwashing is all about.


For me safety ranks
No 1.
Hydrogen is an explosive hazard but at end use combines with o to make water. We can conclude that managing its handling will be both challenging and expensive.

No 2 is energy efficiency. at end use can be competitive or superior to other fuels but will always be handicapped by losses along the production pathway. That's not to say it competitors aren't or that it won't see efficiency improvements in future.If its intended use is for energy then efficiency must be a high priority. In respect of the current practice of obtaining H from NG it is environmentally a particularly bad outcome. In respect to electolysis it is very inefficient. For combined heat and power it can be as efficient as any other fuel without the toxic emissions.
It's production can absorb large amounts of electricity which could be sourced from excess or overcapacity renewable generation on an intermittent fluctuating basis. This would require overcapacity in the H production facility. We could say it 'shifts overcapacity from renewable generators to H production at a (currently) rather poor conversion factor. But if stored and used onsite for smoothing would also reduce the need to build generator overcapacity. the downside here is the need for a highly skilled workforce duplication.
Currently pumped hydro is seen as the cheapest way to store surplus energy at a grid scale.

no3 That it is currently seen as a necessary product for many industries it is not going away and demand is likely to grow It would appear to have potential as a transport fuel of high energy density and low toxic emission so highly desirable.It's not going away.

In a word who's right who's wrong? What's the future (for transport or energy)?



The ideal, for e-storage for REs and ground transportation with extended range BEVs and for short range hybrid e-planes may be with much lower cost 10X to 15X future (2037/2047) batteries.

Meanwhile, FCs may fill part of the above requirements with acceptable efficiency, specially when much lower cost H2 becomes available. Current H2 cost has to be reduced three to to four times. This could be done with improved H2 plants when surplus REs are available at around or below $0.01/kWh.

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