Bloom Energy will install a 240-kW electrolyzer at Xcel Energy’s Prairie Island nuclear plant in Welch, Minnesota, to produce emissions-free hydrogen, the companies said Monday.
The demonstration project is designed to create “immediate and scalable pathways” for producing cost-efficient and clean hydrogen while adding value for nuclear power plants, Bloom and Xcel said.
Bloom, a fuel cell company, expects to start building the electrolyzer in late 2023 and start running it in early 2024.
The companies said the high heat and steam produced by Xcel’s 1,100-MW Prairie Island facility will feed into Bloom’s electrolyzer to produce zero-carbon hydrogen more efficiently than polymer electrolyte membrane or alkaline electrolysis alternatives, which require lower temperatures.
Those low-temperature technologies need about 40% more electricity to produce hydrogen, giving the Bloom electrolyzer an efficiency advantage that is expected to drive down the cost of hydrogen production, the companies said.
The Prairie Island facility faces extreme winter weather, leading Xcel to turn to Bloom’s technology for its resiliency benefits, according to the companies.
“Operating reliably and efficiently, we believe the installation will demonstrate how electrolyzers can leverage the energy output from nuclear to support hydrogen production even during harsh conditions,” the companies said.
The Inflation Reduction Act provides a range of clean energy tax credits, including for hydrogen production. The owners of nuclear plants could benefit from those tax credits by making emissions-free hydrogen at their facilities, S&P Global Ratings analysts said in a report this month.