Large Stranded Renewable Energy: Alternatives to Electricity for Transmission and Low-cost Firming Storage as Pipelined Hydrogen and Ammonia Carbon-free Fuels

W. Leighty
The Leighty Foundation, US

Keywords: renewables, pipeline, storage, cavern, ammonia, transmission, integration


Because humanity's goal must be nothing less than "running the world on renewables", we encounter the Big Three Problems or diverse renewable sources, both centralized and distributed: 1. Gathering and transmission 2. Annual-scale firming storage 3. Integration We need to look beyond electricity systems, and the "grid" as we know it and might make it "smarter" and bigger, to consider alternative systems that may be technically and economically superior. Gaseous hydrogen (GH2) and anhydrous ammonia (NH3, "the other hydrogen") look especially attractive. Without any transmission connection to the electricity grid, we would convert all renewables-source electricity to GH2 or NH3 fuel at the wind or solar plant. Transmission is via underground pipeline. GH2 is stored in large solution-mined salt caverns at ~ $ 0.20 / kWh capital cost. NH3 is stored in large, insulated, above-ground, steel storage tanks at ~ $ 0.10 / kWh. Now, we need to form a collaborative to consider whether we need to carefully and completely consider these alternatives , and whether we should build pilot plants to discover and demonstrate these technical and economic advantages -- if any.