The DOE has made a priority of accelerating the production and deployment of clean hydrogen as a key part of its transition to a low-carbon economy. The ability to commercially scale hydrogen for regional use is a critical step in enabling more renewable energy sources to be added to the grid and vastly increasing the availability of clean energy jobs.
The advanced clean energy storage (ACES Delta I) project— spearheaded by the joint venture of Magnum Development and Mitsubishi Power Americas, and funded with a $504.4 million loan from Loan Programs Office — provides the first and largest opportunity to achieve the DOE’s ambitions.
Located in central Utah, the project is designed to support the evolving needs of the grid by producing up to 100 metric tons of green hydrogen per day from renewable electricity. The green hydrogen — unique because it only uses renewable sources combined with advance technology in electrolysis to generate the hydrogen — will be stored in solution mined caverns. The previous use of the site included a “baseload” coal plant and transmission lines that sold the power directly to the grid.
Generally, power is cheapest when large amounts of solar power is being produced. During seasons of low power demand (spring and fall), solar power is often “curtailed” or wasted because it can’t be utilized. The hydrogen can be stored seasonally and used during months and hours of high demand with a new “peaking” power plant that consumes hydrogen. This two-way power flow will improve reliability and provide carbon free power when needed.
WSP is leading all engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) phases of the underground storage and related surface facilities beginning with Phase I, which consists of developing two large salt caverns capable of storing a total of 11,000 metric tons of hydrogen working gas. Each cavern will hold the equivalent of 150 gigawatt hours (GWh) of carbon-free energy, which is equivalent to 40,000 megawatts of lithium-ion batteries.
Using salt caverns for seasonal energy storage is a significant opportunity to empower hydrogen as an energy carrier and greatly expand energy storage resources throughout the U.S. The massive natural geological salt formation is adjacent to the Intermountain Power Project (IPP) near Delta, Utah, with transmission interconnections to major demand centers throughout the west and significant renewable energy resource opportunities in the region.
The stored green hydrogen becomes an energy reserve that can be released to produce fuel for electric power generation at any time, enhancing grid reliability and efficiency through optimization of existing transmission line loads. It also creates the ability to move excess generation from highly productive generation months with little electric load to cover demand during high-load periods. It also reduces the need to overbuild renewables and new transmission assets.
When completed, ACES Delta I will provide 100 percent clean energy seasonal storage capabilities to support the increased build-out of renewable energy that is essential to a decarbonized future for the western U.S. power grid and to reducing America’s overall carbon footprint.