Green hydrogen fans have lots to cheer about these days as one huge mega-project after another takes shape, but there is also some interesting activity bubbling up on the small end of the scale. With that in mind, let’s check out a new modular, off-grid, above-ground, rainwater harvesting, solar powered hydrogen fuel station over in Australia. Wait, doesn’t the US have one of those, too?
Keeping It Above Ground
Above ground is the keyword here. Electric cars get props for having nothing coming out of their tailpipes, and they also have this extra benefit of not contributing to the LUST problem, which for some reason nobody talks about. However, people should be talking about it, because LUST is a big problem — for gasmobiles, that is.
That’s LUST, as in Leaking Underground Storage Tanks. When you pull into your local gas station, all of your gas does not come out of that little thing sticking up out of the ground. It comes from a storage tank below the surface. Not all of them leak, of course. However, there are a lot of them, and some of them leak into the ground, potentially impacting people who depend on underground aquifers for drinking, which EPA estimates includes about half the US population.
Here in the US, in 1984 Congress finally passed a law requiring corrective action for old leaking underground tanks for petroleum and other hazardous liquids, setting standards for new ones, and tasking EPA with creating a program to deal with the whole mess. Since then the law has been strengthened and expanded, but the problem persists.
Though EPA calculates that 37 states closed about 90% of their problem sites over the past 20 years, 544,000 underground storage tanks remain. They require constant monitoring, correction, and removal if necessary, and a quick stroll through the Intertubes reveals plenty of holes in the program.
“Addressing the LUST sites remaining to be cleaned up continues to be a high priority for EPA and our state, territorial, and tribal partners,” EPA recently wrote, by way of introducing the idea that a backlog of cases remains, even as new ones pop up.
Above-Ground Modular Green Hydrogen Refueling Station To The Rescue
One obvious solution to the LUST problem is to store your hazardous liquids above ground, where you can keep an eye on them. Another part of the solution is to store only the minimum necessary to fulfill near-term needs, and that’s where green hydrogen comes in.
For those of you new to the hydrogen topic, most of the world’s supply of hydrogen is produced by pulling it out of natural gas, which is why hydrogen fuel cell cars get the stink-eye from advocates for climate action. They have zero tailpipe emissions, but they drag a long tail of fossil energy baggage behind them.
Green hydrogen from renewable resources could solve that problem. It used to be a pie in the sky idea, until recent years when the cost of wind and solar power began to sink like a stone. That set the stage for electrolysis, which refers to systems that apply an electrical current to water, and out bubbles the green hydrogen.
That opens the door for hydrogen fuel stations that can store green hydrogen in above-ground tanks. Add a water storage tank and perhaps throw in a battery for additional energy storage, and everything you need is out in the open air.
That finally brings us to the latest news about green hydrogen fuel stations. The firm Hydrogen Fuels Australia has just dropped word that plans for a new hydrogen fuel station are under way for the Melbourne suburb of Truganina, which will give it bragging rights to the first ever off-grid modular green hydrogen production and fuel station in all of Australia.
“Founded on environmentally sustainable and ‘low impact’ concepts, H2FA’s operation uses its own electrolysis assets (in island mode) to convert renewable power into green hydrogen,” explains the company, emphasizing that this is a modular, off-grid system and not a grid-connected system.
The sustainable element includes rainwater harvesting to supply the electrolysis system.
The Global Green Hydrogen Technology Network Is Growing
H2FA also emphasizes that the site is not a one-off. It will serve as an R&D center to fine tune the technology and scale up the green hydrogen production end of things.
The project also demonstrates how the international knowledge base and supply chain is pivoting into green hydrogen.
Partners in the project include Australia-based Skai Energies along with Nilsson Energy of Sweden to manage the site’s microgrid, with Green Hydrogen Systems of Denmark providing the electrolyzers, and the US firm Plug Power supplying power to the site.
If you’re not surprised to see Plug Power in the green hydrogen mix, join the club. CleanTechnica first took note of Plug Power back in 2010, when it was pitching hydrogen fuel cell forklifts to the masses. That was before the green hydrogen industry began to emerge. Now that it has, Plug Power is still eyeballing all sorts of hydrogen-fueled mobility devices, but apparently it has also come to realize that green hydrogen production is a money maker.
A 750-kilowatt solar array will power the electrolysis system at the Truganina site. The initial plans call for 60-90 kilograms of green hydrogen daily, eventually ramping up to 3,000 kilograms. H2FA calculates that will provide enough to fuel over 100 vehicles daily.
More Modular, Renewable Hydrogen Fuel Stations For The US
If all goes according to plan, the new H2FA fuel station will be up and running next year. The company is already planning to expand the concept across Victoria and the rest of Australia, too.
So, what about the US? Although hydrogen fuel cell passenger cars have struggled to find a foothold in the market, a growing number of auto makers are eyeballing the long haul truck field and other heavy duty uses. Quick refueling, long range, and high power are the basic benefits.
The US Department of Energy, for one, is a huge fan. Earlier this month Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced that hydrogen will be the first area of focus under the Energy Department’s new Earthshots innovation initiative, modeled on the successful Moonshot and Sunshot programs.
The Earthshots initiative follows on the heels of a growing movement among hydrogen stakeholders in the US to pump up interest in green hydrogen as a decarbonization pathway, and not just for mobility purposes. In one especially noteworthy development that should send shivers up the spines of natural gas stakeholders, the powerhouse legacy firm Mitsubishi has come up with a new gas turbine for power plants that is specifically designed to integrate green hydrogen with natural gas on an incremental basis, until sufficient supplies are available for 100% green hydrogen operations.
Yikes! Hopefully those green hydrogen power stations will do a better job under climate impacts than natural gas power plants. Natural gas was supposed to be a cleaner “bridge” fuel to deep decarbonization, but for one thing its cleanliness is in question, and for another thing it doesn’t seem up to the task of providing power on a reliable basis during hot spells as well as cold ones.
Looking at you, Texas. In an interesting twist, earlier this year Texas launched a project to explore the development of a regional hydrogen hub, leveraging its considerable wind and solar resources, so perhaps help is on the way.
Follow me on Twitter @TinaMCasey.
Image (screenshot): Courtesy of Hydrogen Fuels Australia.
Elon Musk says Tesla has a ‘performance Cybertruck’
Elon Musk reveals that Tesla has a ‘performance Cybertruck’ – indicating that it could be one of the first versions of the electric pickup truck.
Tesla is on the verge of delivering the first Cybertruck.
Despite the automaker having produced likely hundreds of trucks and being about to start deliveries, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the electric pickup truck.
Tesla first unveiled the Cybertruck in 2019 and announced specs and pricing at the time, but the automaker is known to update its vehicles significantly from prototype to production. On top of it, the auto market has changed a lot since then, and that is expected to completely change the prices that Tesla announced for the Cybertruck.
Those expected changes have led to speculation about which Cybertruck models are going to be available, when, and at what prices.
We have recently seen evidence that at least some of Tesla’s Cybertruck release candidates are dual-motor powertrain trucks, which is leading people to believe that it might likely be the first
Now CEO Elon Musk is now adding some information into the mix by saying on X that he recently drove a “performance Cybertruck”:
I just drove the performance Cybertruck today and it kicks ass next-level.
This means that Tesla currently has a “performance” version of the Cybertruck, which could mean it could be amongst the first versions to come to market.
Tesla has previously announced a tri-motor version of the Cybertruck with the following specs:
- Tri Motor AWD with 500+ miles of range, 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, top speed of 130 mph, and starting price of $69,900
That could certainly qualify as a “performance version”, but there have also been rumors of Tesla offering a potential quad-motor version of the Cybertruck, which could have even higher performance.
Tesla is expected to announce all the details of the Cybertruck at a delivery event, which could come within the next few weeks.
This 100 MPH ‘street legal’ 2-seater electric race car from China looks pretty legit
Most of the fun and funky vehicles I manage to dredge up for the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week are big on weirdness but short on power. This time that seems to be reversed, as this electric race car is more wild than weird and comes with some seriously impressive performance.
This isn’t some slow crawling electric battle tank or ice-cream truck shaped like a VW bus. Those are more typical of this series on odd Chinese EVs, but this time we’re going all-in for extreme performance.
That means you’d better be ready to buckle in for speeds of up to 160 km/h (100 mph)! And based on some of these product photos, I wouldn’t mind buckling into the passenger seat for the first few rides.
Powering this little racer’s rear wheels is a 10 kW (13.5 hp) electric motor, which might not sound that powerful, but remember just how potent the low end torque from an electric motor is for rocketing off the line.
And since the entire vehicle only weighs 650 kg (1,433 lb), not to mention an extra 45 kg (100 lb) of cover girl model, there just isn’t that much mass here to be accelerated.
Plus the Chinese tend to rate motors with continuous power, not peak power. So there’s probably more kilowatts under the hood than we’re expecting. There’s no information on what kind of controller is powering that motor, but I’d wager that the peak power could be closer to 20 kW (27 hp).
There’s also a surprisingly large battery in this little racer, to the tune of 14.4 kWh. It’s a 96V pack built from LG lithium-ion cells and would give several American electric motorcycles a run for their money.
According to the vendor, it should be enough for 150 km (96 miles) of range per charge, though there’s no mention if that’s on a city street track or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Speaking of city streets, the company says that the vehicle is ECE certified and “can be legally driven on European streets”. I guess we’ll just have to take their word on that, unless someone wants to buy one of these and try it out themselves.
There’s no word on DOT-certification and so it’s likely not street legal in the US. But that might not stop someone from going full-‘Murica doing donuts in the local Krogers parking lot with their bald eagle riding shotgun.
If you want to get some skin in the game (eagle not included), it’s going to cost you a cool US $28,000. Or at least that would be the first payment. There’s no telling how much you’d have to fork over afterwards for ocean freight, import charges, taxes, and other add-on charges along the way.
But for anyone hoping to try their luck with the local European cops, it’s at least comforting to see that these vehicles seem to actually be in real production.
The vendor shared several images of what look like a sea of frames alongside several partially assembled race cars.
I’m not recommending anyone actually try to buy one of these from Alibaba. In fact, I’d probably recommend the opposite. Let’s just treat this as a fun window-shopping exercise.
But for the person who inevitably ignores my warnings (as many of my readers have been known to do) and plunks down some serious cash for one of these, let me know if and when it arrives. I will be there in a second to go for a ride with you!
This EV fast charging station tells you when its power is at its cheapest and greenest
This DC fast charging station tells EV drivers when renewable energy is at its peak in the grid – and thus when charging prices are cheapest.
The “Better Energy Charge” station in Sønderborg, Denmark, is owned by renewable energy company Better Energy. (It sits next to the company’s R&D solar park.)
What makes this charging station unique is its dynamic pricing model. It differs from traditional fixed pricing schemes because it incentivizes EV drivers with lower charging prices when renewable energy is at its peak on the grid.
The charging price, which is available the day before, follows the Danish energy spot prices. Similar to a gas station’s pricing signs, the EV charging station’s price board is visible from the road. (Why don’t all EV charging stations do this?)
“We want to encourage people to charge their cars when there is a lot of renewable electricity in the grid by making it cheaper when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing,” said Peter Munck Søe-Jensen, EVP of power solutions at Better Energy.
The Danish company feels its model helps drivers plan in advance to charge their EVs when energy is at its cheapest. And by charging EVs when solar and wind energy production is high, consumers can also increase the probability that it’s renewable, not fossil fuel-powered, energy.
What do you think of this model? Have you seen anything similar? Let us know in the comments below.
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