Around the world, there is an increasing demand for satisfying energy requirements in ways that use less or no fossil fuels. These alternatives need to be reliable, cost effective, and environmentally sound to be adopted on a large scale. For example, as the need to stabilize energy resources increases, many nations and electric utilities are evaluating the increased use of wind as a portion of their power generation mix. Additionally, the use of hydrogen as a “clean” fuel to replace fossil fuels is being seriously considered and investigated by many in the energy industry. While hydrogen may be generated in a number of ways, a growing trend is to convert water by electrolysis to produce hydrogen. In this regard, an electrolyzer uses an electric current to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. When a wind turbine is used to produce the hydrogen, the hydrogen can be used to drive a fuel cell or combination device which can convert hydrogen into electricity.
Engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have patented a method and tower configuration for storing pressurized hydrogen or other gases within a tubular steel wind turbine tower. The hydrogen is generated by a battery selectively used for storing energy from the wind turbine or discharging stored energy (i.e., a nickel hydrogen battery) and/or by an electrolyzer used for storing energy in the form of hydrogen. In the latter example, a fuel cell or combustion device may be provided for converting the stored hydrogen back into electricity for distribution to an end user or to a utility grid. Alternatively, the stored hydrogen may be discharged for use as a fuel at a remote location (i.e., transmitted via a pipeline or other methods for sale as an alternative fuel).
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U.S. Patent: US 7,471,010 B1
Applications and Industries
- Wind and hydrogen power
- Hydrogen and energy storage
Enhanced dispatch ability by allowing the wind turbine to operate when wind is available and using the energy storage system to store energy when demand is lower and to provide additional energy when demand is higher