Xcel Energy is envisioning a hydrogen-powered future
Net-zero strategy includes using hydrogen for electric, natural gas and transportation goals
At Xcel Energy, we’re exploring promising new technologies to help achieve our commitment to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity, net-zero service and zero-carbon transportation by 2050. And that includes technologies for producing and using hydrogen.
“Hydrogen is a versatile fuel source that has been used safely and reliably for more than 50 years, and we’re exploring different hydrogen applications, from generating electricity to heating homes and fueling heavy industry and transportation,” said Greg Chamberlain, Xcel Energy’s vice president of Clean Fuels.
Proposing to build hydrogen hubs
A hydrogen hub is a network of hydrogen producers located near infrastructure for storing and transporting hydrogen and close to industries, generating plants and other consumers that can use hydrogen. When strategically sited, hubs can significantly improve the cost effectiveness and environmental benefits associated with producing and using hydrogen.
Working with our states and other partners, we have proposed to build two hydrogen hub projects in applications competing for U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funding. The DOE is offering in total funding to establish hydrogen hubs across the country under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“Our hydrogen hub projects propose to produce hydrogen using carbon-free nuclear or renewable energy and offer new opportunities for storing and producing electricity and reducing carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy,” said Chamberlain.
If the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub application is successful, Xcel Energy’s project will produce hydrogen on the eastern plains of Colorado using wind and solar and will provide clean hydrogen for generating electricity and serving customers. The Midwest Heartland Hydrogen Hub project seeks to produce hydrogen using nuclear and renewable energy for use by industrial, agricultural and transportation customers. Awards are expected to be announced later this year.
Exploring new ways to produce and use hydrogen
Xcel Energy also has several other projects on its system for demonstrating hydrogen’s potential.
- Nuclear demonstration: At Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Station, the company is working with the Idaho National Laboratory to demonstrate the production of hydrogen using carbon-free nuclear energy. The project will use a semi-trailer sized high-temperature steam electrolysis system, alongside electricity and steam from the plant, to produce hydrogen from water beginning in early 2024.
- Blending demonstration: Xcel Energy is pursuing a demonstration project in Colorado to blend 2% to 10% hydrogen into a very small, limited area of the natural gas distribution system. Participating customers will receive hydrogen-blended natural gas to operate existing furnaces, hot water heaters and other appliances starting in late 2023 through late 2025. In the future, blending carbon-free hydrogen into existing natural gas lines will help reduce carbon emissions from millions of individual homes and businesses.