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On the list of Green Tech companies, generally it's solar panels. Trouble there is, they suffer from the C word now. Commodities.

But Germany and the UK are seeing use in that low power but ultra clean fuel, hydrogen.

I was very sceptical about H2, but am changing my mind. (We accept gasoline, and it looks simple: you go to a pump, and there it is. But think of the stages involved in getting there. H2 is actually easier and more flexible to set up).

The Sheffield company ITM has a lot of patents on its superior Fuel Cell (take my word for a moment). It's able to convert H2 or elecricity in either direction. One point about their product is that H2 can act as a buffer for electricity over-production which happens with wind power.

As an immediate fuel, it works for cars/small trucks. The Edinburgh police use their H2 system for their cars (made from mains electricity, however). The Isle of Man is doing a nice contained experiment, trying to go entirely wind/solar, using H2 as a fuel or as stored energy.

Its patent fuel cell membrane is easy to make and is tough.

I enclose a note about cost effectiveness of H2. It's more impressive than I'd imagined.



ITM Power (AIM: ITM), the energy storage and clean fuel company, is pleased to announce the cost structure of hydrogen generated by the Company’s HFuel electrolysis platform. Combining the capital cost along with operating efficiency gained from completed HOST trials enables a representative hydrogen price to be derived.

The hydrogen costs are best expressed in £/kg and reflect both capital cost amortisation and electricity cost. HFuel can be switched on/off in a second and can be demand side managed as a smart load which could potentially result in electricity costs of less than 4p/kWh and potentially as low as 0p/kWh or negative electricity prices in some parts of Europe utilising a high percentage of intermittent renewable power.

Based on a 100kg/day HFuel system, hydrogen cost ranges from £3.88/kg (based on 4p/kWh and a 20yr Capex amortisation) to £10.71/kg (based on 8p/kWh and a 5yr amortisation). This compares to €9.90/kg (£8.49/kg) which is the European target (McKinsey) for 2015 coinciding with the major roll out of fuel cell vehicles across Europe.

Key HFuel information:
• The HFuel product is modular in size from 5kg/day to 100kg/day unit size, which can be stacked together.
• The HOST experience has shown an electricity cost of 6.5p/kWh provides the same cost per mile as diesel in an internal combustion engine vehicle, based on input electricity costs. Moving to a fuel cell platform would improve the economics very significantly.
• The European cost target for hydrogen generation starts at €16.60/kg in 2010, reducing to €9.90/kg in 2015 and €5.50/kg in 2025.
• A 100kg/day HFuel generation system with a 5 year amortisation and 4p/kWh electricity price produces hydrogen at a cost of £8.31/kg, which is lower than the European target for 2015.
• After the 5 year amortization period, the hydrogen cost from the same system is £2.40/kg, which is lower than the European target for 2025.

The above analysis assumes 100% up time. The energy storage component (hydrogen storage unit) is quoted separately and is typically tailored to the user’s specific requirements. The maintenance scheme is developed to match the installation site and usage profile. The costs associated with shipping the unit to site are not included as they are location specific. Targets are quoted from the McKinsey analysis ‘A portfolio of power-trains for Europe: a fact-based analysis.’

ITM Power CEO, Graham Cooley, commented: “Hydrogen from HFuel costs less than EU targets and is competitive with fuel on the high street today. What could be more compelling than an economic fuel made from renewable power that has zero emissions?” 

 

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