Avangrid Inc., located in Portland, and its Avangrid Renewables subsidiary said they aim to create the popular but early-stage fuel at their Klamath Cogeneration Plant in Southern Oregon.

The natural-gas-fueled plant is part of Avangrid’s Pacific Northwest portfolio, which includes about a fifth of the region’s wind generation, smaller amounts of solar, and some contracted hydropower.

Hydrogen is a pure fuel, but it must be liberated from compounds before it can be used. The most common method is natural gas reforming, which produces a lot of carbon dioxide. An electrolyzer, which is driven by renewable energy, splits water into hydrogen and oxygen in a green method that is gaining popularity these days.

A 20-megawatt electrolyzer is planned for the Klamath plant, according to Avangrid. Although gigawatt-scale projects have been announced, this would equal the world’s largest operating system, which is located in Quebec, Canada. Iberdrola, the Spanish utility that owns 81.5 percent of publicly traded Avangrid, is building a solar-plus-battery-storage-plus-electrolyzer facility in Spain. It estimated that the arrangement would cost 150 million euros, or $176 million at today’s exchange rate.

Avangrid noted in a recent news release that an electrolyzer of such magnitude at Klamath would “enable a 2% blend of green hydrogen into the plant’s fuel supply,” as described in a U.S. Department of Energy request for information regarding hydrogen projects.

The company didn’t say how it would power the electrolyzer to make the hydrogen green, but it’s likely that its wind farm would play a role.

As renewable energy becomes more affordable and electrolyzer technology improves, costs are starting to plummet. However, they will need to drop even more — requiring legislative support — in order for green hydrogen to be commercially viable.

Nedim Husomanovic

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