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New Mexico Building Hydrogen Power Plant

It’s difficult throwing around terms like “world’s first” and “breakthrough” technology and this story probably doesn’t measure up to these standards. Nonetheless, it is important as another corporate entity is ready to put their money where their mouths are in regard to hydrogen technology.

Jetstream Wind Incorporated has just broken ground on a hydrogen power plant in Truth or Consequences (didn’t you just love that old game show?), New Mexico. The main idea behind this new renewable energy power plant is that they will use wind and solar energy and run the resulting electricity through water to create hydrogen gas.

The hydrogen gas will then be burned in a gas turbine similar to what other natural gas power plants are currently using. This in turn will create electricity for about 6,000 homes and businesses and create 150 construction jobs for the building of the plant. Excess hydrogen will be sold for cars and for medical purposes.

Now, I’ve talked about other hydrogen power plants in the past such as the natural gas project in Abu Dhabi, the garbage to hydrogen project in Italy, the chlor-alkali waste hydrogen plant in Ohio and the direct solar to hydrogen plant in Australia.

In regard to the Jetstream Wind project a couple of questions come to mind. First, if they are going to use wind and solar energy, why not just pipe this electricity straight to the grid instead of the energy intensive method of electrolysis to create hydrogen? Why not just use the excess electricity to create hydrogen for storage and later use.

And the second thing that comes to mind is that once you’ve created hydrogen for the primary or secondary energy source, why burn it inside a turbine and not run it through a fuel cell to create electricity? Jetstream says that there is proprietary information involved so they are not releasing many technical details of their new hydrogen plant.

But, one does have to wonder how this company plans to make its system more efficient than any other system and turn a profit while doing so.

About Hydro Kevin Kantola

Hydro Kevin Kantola
I'm a hydrogen car blogger, editor and publisher interested in documenting the history and the progression of hydrogen cars, vehicles and infrastructure worldwide.

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6 comments

  1. Just to guess at some of the answers….

    H2 provides a solution to the intermittancy of renewables (wind blows at night while power demand is during the day, solar is nice except when it’s cloudy, etc…). A utility will pay more for a reliable power source. The h2 fueled source can be thought of as an alternative (probably a cheaper alternative) to other energy storage devices (batteries, pumped hydro).

    As to the turbine vs. fuel cell, one can only guess that the the turbine is cheaper/more efficient than the fuel cell. Maybe a cost of ownership (fuel cell stack needs to be rebuilt after X years) thing.

    Again, all guesses.

  2. admin

    Yes, I agree about using hydrogen to solve the intermittancy issue and this is why I am confused when I read several articles about hydrogen being the main source of energy and not a secondary or backup source.

    Yes, again I agree that the turbine could be cheaper and more well-known technology if other plants are already doing the same with natural gas. I also suspect that life expectancy of the fuel cell isn’t where it needs to be yet compared to turbines.

    I’ll keep following this story to see if I can dig up any more answers as time goes by since this renewable energy power plant could be a good model for other plants across the U. S.

  3. Yes, both of the points you bring up are valid but where does that lead us. Let’s look at the elephant in the living room. The utilities are comfortable with using a gas fuel to create steam to run a turbine and supply power through transmission lines and they desperately want to hold on to that — the rate payer dependent on them and under their thumb, paying whatever the utility can convince some PUC they need to prevent blackouts.

    Many of the other alternative uses of hydrogen lend themselves to distributed or dispersed power generation, the last thing a utility wants. It just won’t happen until: (1) fuel cells and the PV panels to generate the electricity become so cheap that the “free market” kicks in and undercuts the utilities (won’t happen for decades); (2) We start thinking outside the box and use new cheaper hydrogen-generation technology in our personal lives. I’m not holding my breath.

  4. Hello,
    My wife and I are seriously (desperately) wanting to buy a hydrogen powered car. We live in Cedar Crest and work in Albuquerque. What is the Bottom Line: Is there a place nearby where we can fill up at this time?

    Thanks
    Don & Rita
    September 2010

  5. admin

    Right now the only hydrogen fueling station is a private station on private land at:

    Angel’s Nest Hydrogen Fueling Station
    Taos, NM

  6. 8D is another location of a hydrogen fuel station.

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