Is the real cost of green hydrogen an opportunity for AWE?


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I think not at this stage. AWE itself is not mature enough to produce cheap enough power to compete with producing green H2 powered from the grid.

So, #1 is that AWE must most times produce power cheaper than grid power.

#2 is that AWE must do do enough of the time (capacity factor) so that the plant investment costs of the H2 plant doe not offset the increased earnings due to having cheap electricity.

I can only say from cryptocurrency mining where I have some experience, the investment in the mining hardware is a large part of running cost, as well as maintenance costs. For mining in particular hardware costs are quite high as new and better processors become available all the time. So you need to be mining 24/7 for those 18 months (this number is just a guesstimate) where the hardware is still competitive. After those 18 months, it does not make sense anymore to keep the hardware running, unless you have power at below market price.

In this context, it does not make much sense to connect the mining hardware only to wind energy, as you want to utilize the plant 24/7.

I expect some of the same type of calculations apply to H2 production.

One could offset this effect somewhat by using both AWE and grid energy to produce H2, whichever is available at a time, and if it is cheap enough. This is not exactly contributing to the environmental impact because you are spending grid energy when there is no wind and not providing any power when there is power.

This being said, these things are still interesting, and from an economic point of view, adding such capabilities to any wind power plant could increase overall earnings. But I dont believe this will be the case for a long time yet.

As a further note, one the cryptocurrency mining hardware price/speed ratio stabilizes, cryptocurrency mining could be a better match for wind power than green H2. This would all depend on which of the two options that produced the best revenue overall. My guess is that cryptocurrency mining will end up simpler, cheaper, requiring less transport and maintenance etc relative to green H2.

Green H2 production is likely to benefit from large scale plants, drawing massive power from the grid, rather than many microplants at distributed locations. This is again, my thoughts and best guesses.

The evolution in mining hardware for bitcoil is shown in figure 1 on this page: https://blog.bitmex.com/battle-for-asic-supremacy/

It seems this curve is flattening over time.

When I was a kid back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, I was swayed by the concept of clean energy from wind and solar, because I toured the Niagara Falls hydroelectric plant, seeing these HUGE generators powered by nothing more than rainwater runoff. Electricity in Upstate NY was so cheap that many homes were heated electrically. Back then satellites in space had solar panels, and one could surmise that the price could come down with time. As a kid with limited knowledge, a solar- and wind-powered hydrogen clean infrastucture sounded like “a no-brainer”.
BUT
As I learned more about science, I saw the holes in the idea of hydrogen as fuel.- yes it WAS “a no-brainer” because once you applied your brain, the concept began to fall apart. Why? “EFFICIENCY”.

I lamented that electrolysis was only a bit more than 50% efficient. I was alarmed to find out that compressing ANY gas took about the same amount of energy REGARDLESS of the energy content per molecule, and that hydrogen had a very small amount of energy per molecule to offer. So small in fact, that just compressing hydrogen, or liquefying it, took about half the chemical energy content of the molecules, due to this weak energy content per molecule.
Then I was disappointed to learn that even fuel cells were not much more efficient than internal combustion engines - 50% or less!
Unfortunately, each inefficient step in the chain must be multiplied by the other inefficient steps to get to the total efficiency.
Wind Power = 50% efficiency
Electrolysis = 50% efficiency
Compression = 50% efficiency
Fuel cells & IC engiines = 50% efficiency (or less)
1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 x 1/2 = 1/16
If you forget about the 50% efficiency for wind, you’re still only going to get 1/8th the energy back when using hydrogen as storage.
This also neglects the inefficiencies of electric generators and electric motors.
Lithium batteries, on the other hand, are something like 90% efficient at storing electricity.
The reason fuel cells were used on spacecraft was they were not worried about cost or overall efficiency, just the final 50% efficiency of fuel cells and the light weight of hydrogen.
This is all just basic math folks.
So I am a bit perplexed that people are still talking about hydrogen as energy storage.
Are they incapable of doing the simple arithmetic?
Are they so swayed by emotion that they just ignore the facts?
News today: GM is NOT buying into NIKOLA (fuel cell truck wannabe company), and are NOT going to be producing Nikola’s “Badger” truck. I guess maybe some engineers finally broke through to GM CEO Mary Barra with the numbers.
AWE, and wannabe “breakthrough” wind energy in general, seems to have a lot of people sticking their fingers in their ears while shouting “La-la-la-la-la I can’t hear you” when it’s time to look at basic numbers. Even sharp minds seem too easily swayed by emotion, hype, and sexy-sounding buzzwords.
The question is, why would people still be promoting an energy storage method yielding only about 10% efficiency or less?
Elon Musk, for one, has called fuel-cell vehicles “mind-bogglingly stupid”:


Wind energy breakthrough wannabes seem to endlessly seek shortcuts and diversions from the basic question of how much power can your method create at what cost? Endless diversions that try to change the subject to what to do with the power just make the state of delusion worse, compounding the error.
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From the article that is mentioned on the initial post:

The “problem” with green hydrogen is not price parity with grey (or blue hydrogen), this parity already exists. The problem is taxes and levies on the electricity used by electrolyser installations that are not directly coupled to renewable power stations.

As the AWE way of market is still long to come, conceiving complete AWE where the electrolyser is directly coupled to the installation could allow to avoid the huge taxes on produced electricity by not directly coupled electrolysers. In some way it is supposed that AWES are not connected to the grid, while their potential remain significant. After all kite systems for ships are also not connected to the grid.
It is possible that in some cases intermittent renewable should not be connected to the grid because their backup are fossil energy which generate a lot of CO2 emissions.