NextEra Vitality is closing its final coal-fired energy unit and investing in its first inexperienced hydrogen facility.

By its Florida Energy & Mild utility, NextEra will suggest a $65 million pilot within the Sunshine State that may use a 20-megawatt electrolyzer to supply 100 p.c inexperienced hydrogen from solar energy, the corporate revealed on Friday.

The mission, which may very well be on-line by 2023 if it receives approval from state regulators, would signify step one into inexperienced hydrogen for NextEra Vitality, by far the biggest developer and operator of wind, photo voltaic and battery crops in North America.

“We’re actually enthusiastic about hydrogen, specifically after we take into consideration getting to not a net-zero emissions profile however really to a zero-emissions carbon profile,” NextEra Vitality chief monetary officer Rebecca Kujawa stated on Friday’s earnings name.

“Once we checked out this 5 or 10 years in the past and considered what it will take to get to true zero emissions, we have been nervous it was terribly costly for purchasers,” Kujawa stated.

“What makes us actually enthusiastic about hydrogen — notably within the time 2030 and past timeframe — is the potential to complement a major deployment of renewables [and energy storage]. That final quantity of emissions you’d take out of the system to get all the way down to zero may very well be most economically served by hydrogen.”

Inexperienced hydrogen plans taking off all over the world

Though nonetheless in its infancy as a market, the idea of inexperienced hydrogen is quickly catching on globally as a doubtlessly viable method to absolutely decarbonize power methods, taking them past the place easy renewable energy era alone can go even at very excessive penetrations.

The inexperienced hydrogen produced by Florida Energy & Mild’s electrolyzers could be used to exchange a portion of the pure fuel that’s consumed by the generators at FPL’s present 1.75-gigawatt Okeechobee gas-fired plant, Kujawa stated. The electrical energy will come from solar energy that may in any other case have been “clipped,” or gone unused.

Many of the huge portions of hydrogen produced globally right this moment use fossil fuels because the feedstock, producing substantial emissions within the course of. In distinction, inexperienced hydrogen is made utilizing renewables to energy the electrolysis of water, producing nearly no CO2 emissions.

Whichever approach it is produced, hydrogen can be utilized for a wide range of functions, from swapping it for pure fuel in present energy crops to powering gasoline cells in automobiles or ships. (For extra background, learn GTM’s inexperienced hydrogen explainer.)

The EU lately set a goal of putting in 40 gigawatts of electrolyzers inside its borders by 2030 to supply inexperienced hydrogen, because it appears to be like for a path to net-zero.

Air Merchandise, the world’s main hydrogen producer, lately introduced an enormous inexperienced hydrogen plant to be in-built Saudi Arabia, powered by four gigawatts of wind and photo voltaic. And final week California-based gasoline cell maker Bloom Vitality despatched its shares hovering by saying its launch into the business hydrogen market.

For NextEra, hydrogen not solely represents a possibility to decarbonize its FPL utility but in addition a doubtlessly big marketplace for its wind and solar energy.

“We proceed to guage different potential hydrogen alternatives throughout our companies,” Kujawa stated.

NextEra will begin with the identical “toe within the water” strategy it took with photo voltaic and batteries, she stated. “Whereas the investments are anticipated to be small within the context of our general capital program, we’re excited in regards to the know-how’s long-term potential, which ought to additional assist future demand for low-cost renewables in addition to accelerating the decarbonization of transportation gasoline and industrial feedstocks.”

Florida Energy & Mild’s push into inexperienced hydrogen comes simply weeks after the utility introduced it plans to exit its 847-megawatt portion of Georgia’s Plant Scherer, the biggest working coal-fired energy plant within the U.S. — and the final remaining coal unit in NextEra’s portfolio.

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