Before getting steel on the ground in future years, Mitsubishi Power uses modeling to compare system costs of battery and hydrogen-based projects.

The company’s Hari Gopalakrishnan demonstrated some of these models to Clarion Energy at POWERGEN International this week.

Lithium-ion based systems rely on daily-based arbitrage, explained Gopalakrishnan, who is Lead Consultant, Market Intelligence and Strategy for Mitsubishi Power. Hydrogen-based systems rely on seasonal energy arbitrage, where excess energy is shifted from one season to another time of the year where there is a deficit.

“These are not technologies that compete against each other, but they supplement each other,” said Gopalakrishnan.

For example, Mitsubishi Power modeling showed a unit load at 9 p.m. on July 1, after the sun was down.

Gopalakrishnan said to meet that unit load in a battery-based system would mean harnessing that energy in the preceding 24-hour period. Compare that to a hydrogen-based system, where you can harness that energy across months.

“Typically, in North American systems, months from February to May are the shoulder months where you have excess solar available,” he said. “And hydrogen helps you shift that to your peak load months or summer months in July.”

“Fundamentally, a hydrogen-based system is operating over several months to meet that same one-hour load, whereas a battery-based system is operating on a daily basis,” Gopalakrishnan added.

Gopalakrishnan demonstrated Mitsubishi Power modeling of a 1.5 GW decarbonized system in the southern U.S. during the year 2045. But the company also models systems in other parts of the country with different renewable profiles. Mitsubishi Power then incorporates the modeling results into implementing projects on the ground.

In showing the southern U.S. project example, Gopalakrishnan said the battery system would have a total system cost of $1.3 million, vs. $2.1 million for a hydrogen system. But hydrogen became more economical over time, according to the modeling, reaching 60 days, when Gopalakrishnan said there is a 16% reduction in system costs.

“More and more solar and wind is coming online, there is more and more free energy available to be using in your peak months,” he said. “And that's what hydrogen gives you the ability to do.”

Mitsubishi Power and Magnum Development jointly own the Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project in Delta, Utah. ACES is expected to be one of the world’s largest industrial green hydrogen production and storage facilities. It recently received a $504.4 million conditional financial commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

The project is adjacent to the Intermountain Power Plant.  It was first announced in May 2019 and is now in the final stages of debt and equity closing. The project has inked contracts including offtake, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractors, major equipment suppliers, and O&M providers.

The site would initially be designed to convert renewable energy through 220 MW of electrolyzers to produce up to 100 metric tons per day of green hydrogen, which will then be stored in two massive salt caverns each capable of storing 150 GWh of energy. Mitsubishi Power plans to provide the hydrogen equipment integration, including the 220 MW of electrolyzers, gas separators, rectifiers, medium voltage transformers, and distributed control system.

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