Renville Co., Minn., could host first major project to use wind power to produce hydrogen
Monday, April 29, 2013 - 11:11pm
Tom ChervenyWest Central Tribune
BIRD ISLAND — Renville County could become host to the first large-scale commercial project to produce hydrogen from wind in the U.S.
Norfolk Wind Energy of Bird Island and Emerald H2 of Minneapolis entered into an agreement to develop the project, the companies announced Monday.
Norfolk Wind Energy is a community wind project of farmers and landowners in the area south of Bird Island. They are seeking to erect wind turbines with a capacity to produce 40 megawatts of electricity, with the opportunity to eventually expand to 100 megawatts, according to Dave Scheibel of Bird Island, its founder and president.
Emerald H2 of Minneapolis holds rights to a technology that is believed to be more efficient at using electricity to produce hydrogen from water than systems now in use, according to Scheibel.
Norfolk Wind would use electricity generated by the wind during periods of time where there is low electrical demand to produce hydrogen, said Scheibel. Electricity produced during other periods would be transmitted to the grid and sold to a utility customer.
The proposed project would be the first to demonstrate whether hydrogen can be produced from wind-produced electricity on a large scale. The proposed project would include a capacity for using 10 megawatts of wind-generated electricity to produce 500,000 kilograms of hydrogen.
Emerald H2 and Norfolk Wind are currently in discussions with a distributor to sell the hydrogen to industrial customers within a 100- to 150-mile radius of Bird Island. Hydrogen is used in a wide range of industrial applications, from oil refining and altering stainless steel to producing polymers, solvents and even the fats for margarine.
If this proves viable, Scheibel said the hope here is to eventually use the hydrogen to make anhydrous ammonia. In effect,