Date: Oct. 17, 2016

What sources of power can be counted on to back up microgrids when power from utilities runs low? We all think first about solar, batteries, wind, hydro and geothermal. But what about hydrogen? Maybe we should be thinking about that too.

Here’s a video from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Idaho National Laboratory that makes some compelling predictions that hydrogen will play a larger role in providing supplemental power to microgrids.

How Hydrogen Will Back Up Microgrids

The video uses the city of San Francisco as an object lesson to demonstrate how it could happen. To summarize the points that the video makes . . .

  • More and more San Francisco residents are now buying plug-in electric and plug-in hybrid cars. It’s a trend that is likely to continue.
  • As more and more drivers plug in those cars overnight to recharge, the result will be a growing drain on electricity during what have been off-peak hours in the past.
  • The introduction and increased use of cars powered by hydrogen fuel cells – which use no electricity – could relieve stress on grid-sourced power.
  • A growing number of hydrogen refueling stations could be installed around the city, effectively reducing the need for electricity used by plug-in vehicles.

Fuel cell-powered cars were making more news a decade ago than they are now. But let’s not forget that Audi/VW, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Tesla and Toyota are all at work developing hydrogen-powered vehicles.

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