APS Establishes Value of H2 Park
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by Ray Hobbs, Arizona Public Service Company

Hydrogen Park
Arizona Public Service's Hydrogen Park

In 1920, Arizona Public Service (APS) constructed a building, south of downtown Phoenix, to manufacture a hydrogen carbon monoxide gas blend, called “town gas” during the roaring twenties, to bring streetlights and gas utility service to the desert town of 29,000.  Today, 84 years later, APS is producing hydrogen, in the same “unfired brick” building in the historic district of the nation’s fifth largest city with a population of 1.5 million.  APS is an electric utility serving about 1 million electric meters, covering about 50,000 square miles.  APS manages about 12,500 megawatts of electric generation with primary fuel from nuclear, coal, natural gas, oil, solar photovoltaic, solar concentration, biomass, biogas, and soon wind.  APS is owned by Pinnacle West Capital Corporation, a Phoenix based corporation traded on the New York Stock Exchange under PinWst.

In March of 2002, APS was issued a motor vehicle refueling permit to commercially sell hydrogen motor vehicle fuel. Since then, its Hydrogen Park has seen more than 2,500 fueling events with no safety issues. The Phoenix area is home to numerous hobbyists, who have converted their vehicles to run on hydrogen, and six automotive proving grounds.

APS is demonstrating the use of hydrogen in internal combustion engines
APS is demonstrating the use of hydrogen in internal combustion engines.

Demonstrating the use of hydrogen in internal combustion engines promises to be a low cost implementation course for applications in distributed energy. APS’ hydrogen fueled engines have operated from 11 kW to 220 kW peak power, and peak efficiencies of 40% with NOx emissions below 5 ppm. Blends of hydrogen with natural gas used in CNG engines have also demonstrated superior emission performance with low engine modification cost.

APS works collaboratively with the US Department of Energy including INEEL, NREL, SNL, and LANL. Additionally, APS shares Hydrogen Park experiences within the Tres Amigos; BC Hydro, Southern California Edison, and General Electric.  APS employs a Design in Defense Strategy in its Hydrogen Park, which has created a bridge with the hazardous material section of the Phoenix Fire Department that has facilitated permitting and eased Hydrogen Park technology alterations.

The Hydrogen Park was created to explore the commercial feasibility of hydrogen as an energy carrier, like electricity, in internal operations and for APS customers. Topics such as safety, public acceptance, production methods, economics, asset complement, renewable energy integration, and the customer value proposition, are some of the issues addressed by the Park.

APS has received a “Crescordia” (growing in environmental harmony) award from the greater Phoenix Valley Forward Association, and national recognition by the US Department of Energy Clean Cities Program. APS has conducted numerous tours through its Hydrogen Park to groups from Arizona and beyond, and made presentations to a variety of groups throughout Arizona.

Note from DOE, by Chris Bordeaux,

Office of Hydrogen, Fuel Cells and Infrastructure Technologies:

The Arizona Hydrogen Power Park is one three power parks funded by the DOE.  The other two are located in Hawaii and Michigan. All three have coproduction of hydrogen for use in vehicles and stationary fuel cells for a micro grid application.  These are important projects to demonstrate real world operating conditions that test the integration of hydrogen production, storage, and fuel cell technologies.  These power parks integrate renewable and fossil based production technologies, novel compression and storage technologies, dispensers which mix high pressure natural gas and hydrogen for use in vehicles, and stationary fuel cells
that produce electricity for the existing grid.

APS is leading the way for utilities to establish the value of hydrogen power parks for the consumer as well as the business case for the investor.
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