A regular complaint about variable sources of renewable energy is that they need so-called ‘back-up’ when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, but this problem can disappear if fuel cells powered by hydrogen are brought into play. When the electricity system is producing excessive quantities of renewable energy (as will happen as renewable generation increases) this energy can be stored in various forms, one form being hydrogen which can be stored and then used in fuel cells to produce electricity when it is needed. An increasing number of demonstration projects are focussed on generating hydrogen from renewable energy sources using electrolysis of water. One project involves making hydrogen directly from seawater https://www.rechargenews.com/wind/1850034/floating-wind-to-hydrogen-plan-to-heat-millions-of-uk-homes These systems (renewable energy-hydrogen-fuel cell) are coming down in cost as their constituent parts (wind and solar farms, electrolysis and fuel cells) all come down in price. There is a note of warning to be sounded – we should make sure the increase in hydrogen use comes from electrolysis of water, not from traditional means of obtaining hydrogen from reformation of gas or coal – that is the opposite of decarbonisation. Clearly what needs to be done is that rather than shovelling a lot of money down a nuclear black hole (eg the Government’s plans for giving a huge handout to EDF via their proposed ‘Regulated Asset Base’ mechanism), they should be putting some money into encouraging deployment of fuel cells, electrolysis and hydrogen production from renewable energy.
Dave Toke’s Blog 22nd Sept 2019 read more »