Plans for a renewable hydrogen production facility in Eugene, Oregon that could be one of the largest in North America have taken a step forward.
A consortium of Pacific Northwest public and private organisations, comprising EWEB, NW Natural and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to explore development of the facility.
The hydrogen production facility will demonstrate how renewable and low-carbon electricity can be transformed into ‘green’ hydrogen, through a process called Power-to-Gas and used to decarbonise the region’s space heating and transportation sectors.
Plans include the potential for a facility in Eugene that could range in size from two megawatts up to 10 megawatts.
Power-to-Gas produces hydrogen from water by running electricity through an electrolyser.
The device separates water into hydrogen and oxygen that are then captured for storage and use.
Using electricity sourced from hydro, wind, solar or other low-carbon sources, this process creates a renewable form of hydrogen ‘green’ hydrogen.
Green hydrogen will be critical to the long-term decarbonisation of the world’s energy systems, including transportation, heating, manufacturing and other processes.
The consortium also recognises these opportunities in other sectors, like buses using fuel cells, and are looking for additional partners to work with on the potential development.
Hydrogen can be blended with natural gas in small amounts (less than 10%) for delivery and used in existing appliances and equipment.
It can also be combined with carbon dioxide to make a form of renewable natural gas through a process called methanation that can then be stored or delivered along with or in place of conventional natural gas supplies.
“By combining new technologies with renewables developed for the pipeline network and lower use through energy efficiency, we see no technical barrier to a carbon-neutral natural gas system. It’s a strategy already emerging in Europe, and it’s our vision forward,” said David Anderson, NW Natural President and CEO.
The group will look to recreate existing models of successful Power-to-Gas installations, which can be found in Europe, South Korea and elsewhere.
It will also explore the utilisation of some of the hydrogen directly in fuel cells for backup electricity generation.
“In addition to helping the region reach its carbon-reduction goals with this project, fuel cell technology would allow us to keep our backup systems operating for several weeks, well beyond the range of diesel generators in the event of a regional emergency that affected the electric grid,” Frank Lawson, General Manager at EWEB said.
“These fuel cells can be used to both ‘black start’ power plants following a major disruption and provide stability for local power grids.”