Some say hydrogen is just a lot of hot air. But, in Colorado, thanks to Amendment 37 and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), wind-to-hydrogen will become a reality. In the 2004 election, Colorado voters passed Amendment 37, the Renewable Energy Standard.
Under this amendment, utility companies must generate 3-percent of their electricity from renewable energy resources such as wind and solar by 2007. Electric companies must generate 10-percent as well by 2015.
So, in keeping with this mandate, electricity provider Xcel Energy has teamed up with NREL in a $2 million research partnership to develop methods to use wind energy to create and store hydrogen via electrolysis. The hydrogen can then be used to supply electricity back to the grid during peak hours such as the middle of summer when people have their air conditioners on high.
The hydrogen can also be sold for use in hydrogen cars and vehicles or for other applications. Xcel Energy currently employs 282 megawatts of wind power and in 2007 they intend to go online with an additional 775 megawatts in renewable projects.