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Bloom Energy announces hydrogen-powered energy servers to make always-on renewable electricity a reality

Bloom Energy, a developer of solid oxide fuel cell power generators, announced the ability of its Energy Servers to operate on renewable hydrogen. Current Bloom Energy Servers generate electricity using natural gas or biogas as fuel.

At peak times, some US states and countries already have more renewable power than their grids can handle. Despite those periods of excess wind and solar power, because the ability to store electricity for more than a few hours is lacking, dispatchable power from the combustion of fossil fuels continues to bridge gaps in supply.

In areas with large amounts of wind and solar power, excess renewables can be used to produce hydrogen from water via electrolysis. Such renewable hydrogen is becoming cheaper to produce and more readily available, and can be stored indefinitely where it is produced, or in large storage and pipeline networks like the natural gas system.

The ability to operate on renewable hydrogen means Bloom Energy Servers installed today to run on natural gas can be readily upgraded in situ to use renewable hydrogen in future.

The production, storage and dispatch of hydrogen from excess renewable power is the most scalable, affordable and efficient solution to the problem of balancing renewable power supply and demand. 100% renewable and clean energy goals are not realistic for any jurisdiction without massively scalable renewable energy storage and dispatch solutions of this type.

—Jack Brouwer, Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) at the University of California, Irvine

Bloom_Energy_Hydrogen_Graphic

Bloom Energy Servers can operate on pure hydrogen or a combination of natural gas and hydrogen. As the availability of renewable hydrogen increases, it could also be blended into the natural gas pipeline network. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has concluded that blending up to 15% hydrogen into the natural gas supply will not significantly impact household appliances, public safety, or the durability and integrity of the natural gas pipeline network.

Bloom Energy anticipates early demand for hydrogen-powered fuel cells in Asia, where hydrogen production and utilization are being actively developed by countries including France, Japan, Korea and Australia.

Bloom Energy Servers can be placed virtually anywhere where renewable hydrogen, natural gas or biogas is available. A typical 250kW Energy Server produces enough electricity to power a big box store in an area about the size of a parking space. Any number of Energy Servers can be clustered together in various configurations to form solutions from hundreds of kilowatts to many tens of megawatts in a compact footprint.

Comments

electric-car-insider.com

NREL study breaks down cost of electricity produced with hydrogen from electrolysis:

https://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy19osti/72710.pdf

Models efficiency at 54.3kWh/kg.


SJC

SOEC units can make H2 then sell the O2.
The heat they require can come from SOFC units.

Engineer-Poet

In other news, SJC believes in perpetual-motion machines.

HarveyD

Clean H2 could be produced at much lower cost and better compete with oil, gasoline, diesel, CPPs, NGPPs and NPPs when/if:

1) Governments supply initial investment at 1% to 2% rate.
2) Excess REs is supplied at/or below 2.25 cents/kWh (USD).
3) Subsidies to match current oi l& Gas & Nuclear subsidies.

SJC

EP is a moron.

Lad

@EP & SJC:
Please stay cool and not insult each other...nothing positive for anyone reading your posts.

Engineer-Poet

(Another vanishing comment problem.  Probably some forbidden word.  Looking closer.)

SOEC units can make H2 then sell the O2.
The heat they require can come from SOFC units.
In other news, SJC believes in perpetual-motion machines.
EP is a moron.

No, SJC, it's an inescapable logical conclusion from your statement.  Heat is effectively un-storable at the temperature of SOEC/SOFC units and the time-scale of days, let alone weeks or more.  To re-use SOFC heat in SOECs, you'd have to be running them simultaneously or almost so.  That means pumping power INTO SOECs and then putting the fuel into SOFCs to provide the heat the SOECs require:  more or less a perpetual motion machine.

So I used a little poetic license in pointing out that your mental model of the world gets some things badly wrong.  You should try to learn from it, not get all offended.

HarveyD

Who would not get offended by SAEP's frequent name calling and rigid views on near future clean energy sources?

Engineer-Poet

Who would not get irritated by AlzHarvey's chronic

  1. refusal to answer pertinent questions about his assertions,
  2. posting of off-topic and unresponsive Green talking points to many different discussions, and
  3. revisiting of discussion threads where he's already had the last word but posts more words which don't reference anything that came before, not even his own comment?

After watching this for a while, you start to notice the pattern.  The pattern suggests either someone who is senile and unable to think straight, or someone who is being paid to post propaganda and has a quota to meet to collect the check.

Anyone can look to see if this pattern correctly describes what I've pointed out.  Just put this into any search engine:

AlzHarvey site:greencarcongress.com

If it's true, AlzHarvey, no one should be offended by anything except your behavior which I have concisely and accurately described.

Now stop it.

Arnold

I guess they thought they were on the junior high bitchin' blog.
If they want to know , no one gives a fig. It's f'n insulting to the readers and especially the publisher who is gracious enough to let all comers access. Respect.

The rest of us open the page to find out more about the topic - H2 economy plans by major national players + the U.N. which for what it's worth is 'going off as far as I hear.
a.u. cheif scientist is a 'convert.
To ECI, the page you linked to was a bit too cryptic for my comfort but the 54% you mention seems to relate to efficiency as bottled or injected to the gas pipes which sounds about right. The associated costs seem to be volume production rather than the small scale which are surely not cheap.
We know that the costs drop quickly as production scales up.
The take away argument in favour of this is similar to that presented by the 'authourities or gov'ts with the twist being that otherwise very high intermittent renewables are curtailed and the return could be as low as zero. so 40-50% in no laughing matter.
We see people getting very excited over anything more than a percent here or there in any other area I.E a few percent weight reduction a few in fuel economy a few% in efficiency = best practice in the real world. Not load shedding 40% should really make a lot of sense.

electric-car-insider.com

The OP mentioned nothing about operating costs (information which seems to be hard to find about the Bloom Servers). I was curious about what electricity produced by these servers would cost.

As Harvey points out, the original “surplus” renewable electricity will have to be very cheap. Harvey didn’t supply supporting data for his speculations, so whether it’s $0.025 or $0.0005 will be left to people willing to dig up reliable sources and make their own analysis.

The pricing and reliable availability (capacity factor of the electrolyzer) of the “surplus” electricity will determine the viability of H2 fed Bloom Servers.

I’d love to see some data on the floor pricing of that “surplus” RE.

Arnold

I thought that point two: replacement cost/kW year would at least partially describe operating costs but no there would be catalyst electrodes storage tanks? mentioned for cost but maintenance and replacement cost unclear etc.
I guess if we want to fully understand even manpower, insurance etc etc.
Clearly they are suggesting the $4 per kg but again does the production cost include all the above ? - To be meaningful It should.

NATIONAL RENEWABLE ENERGY LABORATORY 11
H2 production cost: Modelling framework & assumptions
System configurations and technology
assumptions (1 MW electrolyzer)
• Capital cost: $1,691/kW
• Replacement cost: $18.64/kW-year
• H2 storage capital cost: $1000 /kg
• Fixed O&M cost: $75.2/kW-year
• Lifetime: 20 years
• Interest rate: 7%
• Efficiency: 54.3kWh/kg
• Minimum part load: 10%
• Operation modes: Base load and Flexible
• Capacity factor (CF): 40%, 60%, 80%, 90%,
and 95%
• Storage duration: 8 h
• Time horizon: 1 year (8,760 time periods)
Ref: Eichman J. et al. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL),
Golden, CO, 2016.
RODeO
Other
inputs
Utility
service
ISO/RTO
electricity
markets
Maximum revenue
Operational profile
Energy & demand charges
x
RODeO: Revenue Operation and Device Optimization price taker model. It is formulated as
a mixed-integer linear programming (MILP) model in GAMS.

electric-car-insider.com

Here’s another data point, posted on GCR and reported by PV Magazine:

“The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) Board of Commissioners is expected to approve a two-phase 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) priced at 1.997¢/kWh for 400 MWac / 530 MWdc of solar electricity, and 1.3¢/kWh for electricity from a 400 MW / 800 MWh energy storage system.

The project, the Eland Solar & Storage Center, would be the cheapest solar rate in the country, and one of the cheapest in the world.”

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