The US Department of Energy has closed on a $504.4-million loan guarantee for a hydrogen storage center in Utah, advancing a proposal to replace a coal-fired power plant with a facility powered by renewable energy sources. According to officials, the loan demonstrates the Energy Department Loan Programs Office’s commitment to increasing assistance for sustainable energy technology ventures.

According to DOE officials, the Advanced Clean Energy Storage project in Delta will be the world’s biggest clean hydrogen storage plant. As previously reported by ENR, the anticipated $1 billion project would “capture” excess renewable energy and use it to power electrolysis equipment that converts water into hydrogen. The hydrogen will then be stored underground in a pair of 4.5-million-barrel salt caverns until it is required to create electricity.

The hydrogen will be utilized by a planned power plant at Intermountain Power Agency. According to the power agency, which transfers energy to six states, the plant would initially utilize a combination of natural gas and 30% hydrogen for power production before transitioning to 100% hydrogen fuel by 2045. The facility is expected to be operational in 2025.

The loan guarantee will aid in the financing of the hydrogen hub’s development.

“This step creates a path to accelerate the long-term hydrogen market and clean energy landscape to expand decarbonization across the United States,” Michael Ducker, senior vice president of hydrogen infrastructure for Mitsubishi Power Americas and president of Advanced Clean Energy Storage I, said in a statement. Mitsubishi Power is one of the hub plan’s partners.

According to authorities, this is the department’s first credit guarantee for a new renewable energy technology initiative since 2014. But there will be more.

Since December, DOE has also given conditional approval to a $1 billion loan guarantee for a Nebraska plant that would produce hydrogen and carbon black in a low-emissions process, as well as a $107 million guarantee for a Louisiana project that would produce graphite for lithium-ion electric vehicle batteries.

According to Jigar Shah, office director, the department’s Loan Programs Office has 77 active applications for $78.8 billion in loans as of May.

“As today’s announcement shows, we’re back in a big way,” he said. “Over the past 15 months, the Loan Programs Office has gone from a largely dormant office to a hub of activity.”

Shah said funding interest “already is exceeding the $11 billion we have left.”

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters that the DOE is expanding the loan office to achieve President Joe Biden’s climate objectives.

“President Biden set this series of bold clean energy goals—100% clean electricity by 2035, net zero [carbon emissions] by 2050,” she said. “The only way to hit those goals is to scale deployment of clean energy technologies as quickly as possible.”

Shah noted that the office has expanded from less than 100 to more than 150 employees.

“The goal of our effort is not to just provide stimulus in the short term, but to create an institution that entrepreneurs and energy leaders can rely upon to help commercialize their technologies and build robust industries right here in the United States,” he said.

Source: enr.com

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