May 22, 2023 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2023 • Episode: 216
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In episode 216, Reuters talks to nuclear hydrogen in the US and Canada. These countries are setting the example bringing nuclear energy into the hydrogen economy mix and Europe needs to pay close attention. I’ll go through the article and give my thoughts on today’s hydrogen podcast.
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Reuters talks to nuclear hydrogen in the US and Canada. These countries are setting the example bringing nuclear energy into the hydrogen economy mix and Europe needs to pay close attention. I’ll go through the article and give my thoughts on today’s hydrogen podcast.
So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters who recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen, and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden, and welcome to the hydrogen podcast. In an article in reuters.com, Paul Day writes North American subsidies helped boost nuclear hydrogen plans, generation workhorses, such as Bruce’s Powers Nuclear Generating Station in Ontario, Canada, and constellations Nine Mile Point nuclear station in New York, as well as fourth generation reactor developers, such as Terrestrial Energy consider themselves important producers of clean hydrogen in the future. Governments in the United States and Canada agree and are plowing billions of dollars into the hydrogen industry through subsidies that do not discriminate against nuclear technology. In late 2022, the US government announced a $7 billion funding opportunity to create regional hydrogen hubs, at least one of which would use nuclear as its feedstock.
The US inflation Reduction Act meanwhile, offers subsidies on low carbon hydrogen and is agnostic as to the source of the electricity to produce it. The inflation Act includes support for clean hydrogen production via tax credits, that will award up to $3 a kilogram for low carbon hydrogen, whether it’s from renewables or nuclear. In a quote from Simon Irish CEO of Terrestrial Energy, which is looking into producing hydrogen from its integral Molten Salt Reactor advanced reactor that is currently being assessed by the Canadian Regulatory Authorities said the production and investment tax credits for hydrogen production in the 2022.
Stimulus bills reduce the subsidized cost of quote unquote, pink hydrogen, so it is strongly cost competitive with hydrogen from natural gas. The US Department of Energy or the DOE, which estimates a single one gigawatt reactor could produce up to 150,000 tons of hydrogen a year, and they’ve teamed up with utilities to support four hydrogen demonstration projects at nuclear power plants. These include projects at nine mile Point nuclear power station in New York with Constellation Energy, the Davis Bessie nuclear power station in Ohio with energy Harbor, as well as the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant in Minnesota with Bloom Energy and Xcel Energy and the Palo Verde generating station in Arizona with Arizona public service and P and W hydrogen. The projects all work toward the do E’s hydrogen shot goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 a kilogram in one decade. In Canada where around 15% of the country’s electricity is from nuclear power, the government introduced a new 15% refundable investment tax credit for clean electricity and its 2023 budget that can be applied to all sizes of nuclear power, including SMRs large builds and new refurbishment projects.
Now, according to Canadian Press, Energy and Climate Minister Steven Guilbeault, a former anti nuclear environmental activist, recently did a U turn on nuclear power and said that, despite his previous opposition, he now believed quote, We need this technology unquote. In line with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, hydrogen production is most efficient at high temperatures and thermal energy from nuclear reactors means high temperature steam electrolysis, which is 20 to 40% more efficient than conventional electrolysis can be deployed according to Terrestrial Energy. The company’s IMSR design is currently in the pre licensing vendor design review process with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the company aims to build its first commercial reactor in Canada before the end of the decade.
Again in a quote from Irish from Terrestrial Energy generation four technologies operate and supply heat at higher temperatures than existing reactor technology and in the case of IMSR, much higher high temperature operation is essential for low cost clean hydrogen. He also said The IMSR can deliver the efficiencies needed for procducing zero carbon hydrogen, close to the cost of hydrogen from natural gas without subsidy, this is a game changer. Lazard’s 2023 levelized cost of energy report estimates the cost of subsidized and unsubsidized pink hydrogen from existing nuclear power plants at 48 cents to $1.81 per kilogram and $2.75 to $4.08 per kilo respectively. One of the cheapest methods of producing the gas of all generation technologies, Irish believes Terrestrials IMSR plant with its quote best in class heat supply will produce the gas even cheaper, The IMSR produces heat of 600 degrees Celsius costs less than $6 per million Btus and can produce electric power at less than $50 a megawatt hour this according to the company. Terrestrial also says that these two energy streams When coupled to high temperature electrolysis, produce clean hydrogen at about $1.70 to $2.20 per kilo of hydrogen from a 250 ton a day plant.
The IMSR plant is designed to be sited close to its industrial end user, which could save on high costs associated with storing and transporting hydrogen from its production point to the off taker. Again, according to Irish with the ability to locate near the end user and IMSR plant addresses the storage and transport challenges of making hydrogen as it supports hydrogen production at the point of consumption. Canada’s Bruce Power, meanwhile, runs the second largest nuclear power station in the world with an eight reactor plant that produces when in full operation some 6400 megawatts to the Ontario Power Grid, which is likely to be increased to 7000 megawatts after extensive reforms. The plant is in the midst of a 13 year multibillion dollar refurbishment, and part of the reform is looking at other technologies that could complement its electricity production. Bruce Power is collaborating on a feasibility study to determine opportunities for hydrogen production using excess electricity or curtailed power candidate envisions hydrogen from non carbon emitted sources delivering up to 30% of end use energy by 2050.
And according to the hydrogen strategy for Canada, a strategy the government says is a call to action. And in a quote to Reuters events, James Scongack who is Bruce powers Executive Vice President and Operational Services and Chief Development Officer said, We need every clean energy tool in the toolbox. We look at pump storage netzero technologies, we look at hydrogen, and we say those are all technologies that are complementary with this foundation we’re building and growing. Okay, I’m gonna be honest, I think this is a beautiful article and something that the world needs to pay attention to, especially world powers that have access to nuclear generation for energy. And I’ve said many times on this show, that the coupling of nuclear energy and hydrogen is about as close to perfect as you can get for electrolysis derived hydrogen. Because the thing is, nuclear power has become so safe, efficient and reliable. The thought of coupling an electrolyzer to that excess capacity makes nothing but perfect sense. And this also means potentially a constant supply of energy for electrolysis versus renewables, which is intermittent. Now, obviously, the regulatory roadblocks around nuclear energy are some of the greatest in the world. And of course, that varies country to country, but it still is to get federal approval on development and construction of nuclear plants. One of the other things that I liked about this article is how it talks about the US and Canada aren’t really looking at technologies or colors, and not discriminating against one technology or another.
Now usually, that argument applies to electrolysis from renewables versus blue or hydrocarbon derived hydrogen. But I’ve said it before, and I want to say it again, because I think it’s extremely important. Nuclear should be playing a very important role in the hydrogen economy. Now of the projects that were mentioned in this article, the one that I’m most familiar with is the Prairie Island Nuclear Generating Plant in Minnesota. Now that is with Bloom Energy and Xcel Energy. Now, hopefully that continues moving forward because I really do want to see the results from Bloom Energy and how those electrolyzers are working, feeding off the energy from that nuclear power plant. And hopefully, they won’t be be too shy announcing some of the economics around their findings. And this is also a shout out across the pond to Europe, or to at least the countries that have nuclear facilities. Pay close attention to what’s going on in the US and Canada. This is something you should be taking advantage of.
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