Stanford Study Develops Battery-Hydrogen Combo For Reliable Grids

Stanford Study Develops Battery-Hydrogen Combo For Reliable Grids Stanford Study Develops Battery-Hydrogen Combo For Reliable Grids

A recent study by Stanford University demonstrated that combining battery storage with hydrogen fuel cells can ensure low-cost reliability.

In the study Stanford engineering professor Mark Z. Jacobson, he used a computer modelling system to bust the myth, he said, “The fossil fuels – rather than a combination of renewables, battery storage, and hydrogen fuel cell storage – are needed to keep the lights on 24/7, 365 days a year at low cost throughout the world.”

Pumped Hydrogen Storage

The study found, “Pumped hydropower storage (PHS) sites found the growth rate in PHS and CH to be limited by zoning impediments in some locations and resource limits in others. It has been hypothesized, therefore, that battery storage (BS) and green hydrogen storage (GHS) (hydrogen produced from clean, renewable electricity, then compressed, stored, and returned to electricity with a fuel cell) may be needed substantially in a future clean, renewable grid.”

It added, “Other types of electricity storage, such as concentrated solar power (CSP) with storage, flywheels, compressed air storage, and gravitation storage with solid masses exist but have not taken root to the extent that batteries have to date, and GHS is anticipated to in the future.”

Jacobson said, “They further found in the study, transitioning to clean power can reduce countries’ overall annual energy costs by around 61%. At this point, anyone saying that we need fossil fuels, nuclear, or any other conventional energy resource to keep the lights on 24/7 hasn’t done the analysis.” 

Hydropower Plus Batteries

The study found, “Existing hydropower plus batteries avoids blackouts throughout the world. However, adding green hydrogen to the mix reduces energy overall cost in some regions. Using hydropower and green hydrogen but no batteries is always more expensive than using hydropower with both batteries and green hydrogen.”

He added, “This study will help planners create a more efficient and cost-effective future energy system based on clean, renewable electricity. The results provide countries with concrete evidence and the confidence that 100% clean, renewable grids not only lower costs but are also just as reliable as the current grid system.” Jacobson also found that combining hydrogen production and storage for grid purposes and non-grid purposes (steel production, ammonia production, and long-distance, heavy transport) generally reduces overall energy cost relative to separating such production and storage, due to economies of scale.

He further explained, “Wind turbines and solar power are rapidly replacing fossil fuels worldwide as a source of electricity. However, the wind does not always blow, and the sun does not always shine, leading to fears of power outages. Currently, hydroelectric power and fossil gas provide most backup when insufficient coal, nuclear, or other electricity is available.”

The study was carried out through three types of computer modeling: a three-dimensional global weather-climate-air pollution model, a spreadsheet model and a model that matches electricity, heat, cold, and hydrogen demand with supply, storage and demand response assuming perfect grid interconnection.

He analyzed, “The two of the main contenders for replacing fossil gas for storage are batteries and green hydrogen used in fuel cells. Green hydrogen is hydrogen produced from renewable electricity, such as wind, solar, or hydroelectricity. Five countries already have 100% renewable electricity grids, 10 have 97.3-100% renewable grids, and 35 have 50-100% renewable grids. Such grids are mostly dominated by hydropower, though. In 11 U.S. states, 51-97% of the equivalent electricity consumed is powered by renewables, with seven of those states dominated by wind and one by solar.”

Jacobson analyzed the cost of keeping the grid stable in 145 countries powered for all energy purposes (electricity, transportation, buildings, industry, agriculture, forestry, fishing, and the military) by clean, renewable energy, namely electricity and heat coming from wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and solar sources. The main electricity storage options included existing hydropower dams, batteries and green hydrogen.

He found, “The main reason for this result is that every region in the world needs short-term bursts of power with 100% renewables on the grid (thus every region needs either hydropower or batteries), but not every region needs new long-term storage. This is because such regions have either a good combination of wind and solar resources that provide energy continuously over long periods, have a lot of existing hydropower for long-term storage, and/or can use the same number of new batteries they use for short power bursts for long-term storage as well.”


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