Always-On writes (via AP):
Wind power and other alternatives to fossil and nuclear fuels have one major drawback – they depend on nature to generate electricity.
A Norwegian company, Norsk Hydro ASA, presented a project Tuesday to overcome the problem of storing electricity when the wind dies, the sea calms, or the sun doesn’t shine
It built two 600-kilowatt wind turbines and connected them with a hydrogen generator and a fuel cell to provide electricity for 10 homes on Utsira, a tiny town of 240 people on a wind-swept island about 18 kilometers (11 miles) from the mainland. Utsira is 320 kilometers (200 miles) west of Oslo.
When it’s very windy, not unusual for Utsira, the wind turbines will produce excess power to produce hydrogen fuel in a process known as electrolysis – which splits water into hydrogen and oxygen.
That fuel will in turn power a hydrogen combustion engine and a fuel cell to generate electricity when the wind is not blowing.
“It is the first full scale project of this type in the world,” said project manager Paal Otto Eide, whose company is leading the 40 million kroner (US$5.8 million) effort.
Hydrogen is considered by many to be a pollution-free fuel of the future. It is being also being tested as a fuel for cars.
“Utsira is a demonstration of what we could imagine as a hydrogen community in the future,” Eide said.
Ten of the homes on Utsira hope to switch away from the country’s traditional power grid on July 1 for a test lasting up to three years.