Why Hydrogen? - The Colorado Hydrogen Network Vision
Renewable energy – wind, solar and hydroelectric – are energy sources that also need both a carrier and storage. The electricity from these sources, transported on the grid, can serve as the energy carrier. Hydrogen is an energy carrier which can be generated from renewable electricity (and other sources), but hydrogen can serve storage needs as well. This makes hydrogen important for transportation, where a large amount of portable, storable energy is required.
Although hydrogen is in its infancy as a transportation fuel, government and industry are working toward clean, economical, and safe hydrogen production and distribution for widespread use in Fuel Cell EV’s (Electric Vehicles). Fuel Cell EVs are available to the consumer market now, in limited quantities, in localized regions domestically and around the world. The Colorado Hydrogen Network is working to deploy Fuel Cell EV’s in Colorado. The market is also developing for buses, material handling equipment (such as forklifts), ground support equipment, medium and heavy-duty vehicles, and stationary applications.
For any technology to be adopted, it must meet three criteria: it must be technically feasible; it must be affordable; and people must be willing to adopt it. The Colorado Hydrogen Network aims to address all three to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen technology through initiatives and advocacy.
Promote – Advocate – Educate – Accelerate
Technical exchange with inventors, scientists, national laboratories, universities and business
The exchange of business and investment opportunities
Help educate media, the public and local government to the important role of hydrogen in the energy transition and to win their support
Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (EV's) need hydrogen fuel. Therefore, Fuel Cell EV's can't be deployed until fuel stations are built. But who would invest in building fuel stations if no Fuel Cell EV's exist? Obviously, both need to be deployed simultaneously. But because the initial Return on Investment (ROI) is low, sponsorship is needed to help get the first hydrogen stations built. This is where the Colorado Hydrogen Network comes in. By working with sponsors, investors, Colorado government and fuel infrastructure businesses, we'll help solve this stalemate so Colorado can follow California as one of the leading Fuel Cell EV states.
The conversion of electricity to hydrogen or hydrogen back to electricity takes hardware. Electrolyzers use electricity to split water (H20) into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is compressed and stored for use. Hydrogen can be converted back to electricity in a device called a fuel cell. A number of Colorado businesses design and manufacture this hardware - from compressors to valves to tanks and more. The Colorado Hydrogen Network is an advocate for these businesses and acts as a platform for exchange of business opportunities and technical ideas.
Colorado Hydrogen Roadmap
Colorado air quality could benefit greatly from zero-carbon trasportion, electricity production and industries. Some municipalities and electric utilities have already committed to zero-carbon by specified dates, and more continue to join all the time. To help with this transition, Colorado already has a number of businesses supplying components to the hydrogen industry. What's needed is a way to orchestrate all these players - to bring together the suppliers and users, along with public support. To that end, Colorado Hydrogen Network is working with the Colorado Energy Office on a Colorado Hydrogen Roadmap - to plan and chart hydrogen infrastructure deployment for the next few years in order to accelerate that deployment.
The Colorado Hydrogen Network is an advocate for hydrogen technology to state and local decision makers. We seek to make those leaders aware of the benefits to Colorado's air quality from the deployment of hydrogen generated from renewable energy, and increase awareness of the Colorado hydrogen businesses available to help.
Hydrogen from Excess Renewable Energy
The output from wind and solar generators can sometimes exceed the needs of the grid. In many cases, these generators are simply turned off, or "curtailed". A better option would be to turn this excess electricity into hydrogen at fuel stations and used used to power Fuel Cell EV's. An additional benefit is that the generation of hydrogen could be turned on and off by the utilities to help balance the grid. The Colorado Hydrogen Network is working to deploy this technology.
Hydrogen has an image problem - the public doesn't seem to know much about it. The Colorado Hydrogen Network will work to change that with a podcast, the HydrogenNowCast, and also with various campaigns to educate governments, the public and the media about the benefits of hydrogen - especially for transportation.