NRELs hydrogen-wind plan

NRELs hydrogen-wind plan

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Xcel Energy next week will announce an ambitious $2 million research partnership to use hydrogen for storing wind electricity.

The ground-breaking technology will use wind power to separate hydrogen from water and store that hydrogen in special containers so it can be used later to generate electricity.

Scientists say the stored hydrogen, for instance, can be used in fuel cells or gas turbines to generate electricity at peak demand hours, such as during afternoons in summer when customers crank up air conditioners. The stored hydrogen also can be used to make transportation fuel.

Developing the technology is important for Xcel, which is committed to buying power from many new wind projects in order to comply with the renewable energy standards passed by voters in November 2004.

“This partnership with NREL is another example of our commitment to reducing our impact on the environment,” said Xcel spokeswoman Ethnie Groves.

The system will be at NREL’s National Wind Technology Center, where hydrogen will be produced, compressed and stored. The research is expected to be completed by 2008. At that time, Xcel will to move the equipment to another location in Colorado.

Xcel plans to invest more than $1.25 million in the project. NREL and the Department of Energy will to invest approximately $750,000.

Richard Kelly, chairman, president and CEO of Xcel, along with Dan Arvizu, director of National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will announce the partnership on Thursday.

Xcel has 282 megawatts of wind power in its system. It has OK’d another 775 megawatts worth of new projects, which will be online by the end of 2007.

Those projects will bring Xcel in compliance with Amendment 37, or Colorado’s renewable energy standard.

The mandate requires Xcel to acquire 10 percent of its electricity sales from renewable sources such as wind, sun, or plant and animal waste through 2015. At least 4 percent of that must come from solar energy.

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