Mar 10, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Utah hydrogen hub inches closer to reality

The Mitsubishi hydrogen powered suv concept car

Photo: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

A Utah power plant could run at least partially on hydrogen within the next five years, according to a contract awarded today between an energy-technology manufacturer and a Utah power agency.

Why it matters: Governments, companies and experts around the world are increasingly looking to renewable hydrogen as a long-term pathway away from oil, natural gas and coal while still using infrastructure initially made for them.

Driving the news: The company that won the contract, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), says this indicates approval for the world’s first-ever turbines specifically designed for a plant to eventually use renewable hydrogen to create electricity.

Where it stands: The power plant, owned by the Intermountain Power Agency, a power cooperative of cities in Utah and California, will be operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and provide power to both L.A. and other parts of the two states.

  • The plant, currently powered by coal, will first be transitioned to natural gas, and by 2025, the turbines “will be commercially guaranteed” to use a mix of 30% hydrogen and 70% gas.
  • The company says that will cut carbon emissions by more than 75% compared to coal. 
  • By 2045, MHPS says the turbines' capability will be increased to use 100% renewable hydrogen.

One level deeper: Renewable hydrogen is generated by “using renewable energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, in a process called electrolysis,” per this recent deep dive from the L.A. Times on this subject. 

Go deeper: Germany's hydrogen-powered train advancing low-carbon transport

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