Saturday, May 13, 2006

Energy Department Signs Wind-to-Hydrogen Research Agreement

08 May 2006

Energy Department Signs Wind-to-Hydrogen Research Agreement
Project will compare producing hydrogen from wind power, electric grid

Washington – The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Xcel Energy, an electric power and natural gas utility, have signed a cooperative agreement for an innovative "wind to hydrogen" research, development and demonstration project.

Researchers will analyze and compare hydrogen production from wind power and the electric grid, according to a May 8 DOE press release.

The hydrogen will be produced through electrolysis – the process of using electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen atoms. NREL is DOE’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy-efficiency research and development.

"One unique feature of this system is the direct connection between the wind turbine and the electrolyzer, which will make the system more efficient," said Ben Kroposki, senior engineer at NREL's Center for Electric and Hydrogen Technologies and Systems.

The agreement supports the President Bush’s Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, which seeks to develop the hydrogen, fuel cell and infrastructure technologies needed to make it practical and cost-effective to use fuel cell vehicles by 2020.

The new wind-electrolysis system will be at NREL's National Wind Technology Center, where hydrogen will be produced, compressed and stored to be used as a vehicle fuel or to generate electricity.

The project will compare electrolyzer technologies and researchers will examine issues related to system efficiency, integration, compression, storage, cost and the use of a mixture of hydrogen and natural gas.

This partnership combines NREL's expertise in renewable energy and hydrogen with Xcel Energy's expertise in energy conversion, transmission, distribution and use. Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy plans to add 1,200 megawatts of wind energy capacity in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas by the end of 2007.

Xcel Energy will invest more than $1.25 million in the project; NREL and DOE will invest about $750,000.

For additional information on renewable energy resources, see Washington File articles on solar energy, hydrogen fuel cells, biomass and wind power.

For information on U.S. policy, see Energy Policy.

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: