TonyWilliams wrote:So, then folks thought hydrogen might be ok for large scale grid storage, and then Tesla and others provided batteries (and solar) large enough to be useful on a large scale.
While this is certainly true, we need to all understand what "large scale" really means when we are talking about LI-ion batteries. As Jeff Dahn explained in a TED talk last year: jeff Dahn explained in a TED talk last year
(sorry, I don't know how to stop the forum software from turning my URL into a full-sized YouTube window) It would take the entire output of a Gigafactory for TWO YEARS to build enough batteries to store enough energy to power Newfoundland for 24 hours.
The simple fact is that we have no storage technology on hand which can readily address the problem of grid-scale storage that is needed to support very high penetration levels of renewable energy. Clearly batteries have an important role to play here. Also clearly, ovesizing renewable generation facilities will become a necessity. While those two approaches together *may* eventually prove to be sufficient at or near the equator, they quickly fall apart as a solution as you move away from the equator toward the poles. Even at the modest latitude where I live, batteries are not a sufficient solution. What will be ultimately needed for countries like the United States to move entirely to renewables is seasonal energy storage capabilities: store energy in the summertime for use in the wintertime.
Seasonal energy storage is an application where hydrogen should have a significant role to play. The idea of using "excess" renewable energy generation to hydrolyze water to produce hydrogen which can then be stored in the natural gas pipelines at ratios up to about 15%
is something that likely makes very good sense. This is true even if the hydrogen is simply burned along with the natural gas by the end users, since natural gas is currently used to provide both electricity AND heat in the wintertime. The technology exists to also extract pure hydrogen from the mixed-gas pipeline
, but that is an expensive undertaking which will limit its application somewhat.
But, frankly, this application of hydrogen is developing at a glacial pace. I did several Google searches on this subject and did not get a single hit from 2017. I only got a couple of hits from 2016. The most significant event I know of is that Germany started pumping hydrogen into their natural gas pipelines in 2015 (which we discussed here at that time). I suppose that pilot project continues to this day, but I haven't seen any coverage of it since that time.
The bottom line is that we need to apply technologies where they naturally fit rather than trying to shoehorn them into areas where other technologies have advantages. Batteries will continue to win most (not all) applications where energy is stored only for a short while (read "days"), but they likely will almost never suit for seasonal energy storage applications. Hydrogen seems much better suited for those long-term storage roles and will find its way into other applications along the way. This is not an insignificant role, as I'm pretty sure the amount of energy we will need to store seasonally is larger than the amount we will need to store for short-term applications.
As always, time will tell which technologies end up in which roles.