NextEra Energy to Build Its First Green Hydrogen Plant in Florida

NextEra Energy is closing its last coal-fired power unit and
investing in its first green hydrogen facility.

Through its Florida Power & Light utility, NextEra will
propose a $65 million pilot in the Sunshine state that will use a
20-megawatt electrolyzer to produce 100 percent green hydrogen from
solar power, the company revealed on Friday.

The project, which could be online by 2023 if it receives
approval from state regulators, would represent the first step into
green hydrogen for NextEra Energy, by far the largest developer and
operator of wind, solar and battery plants in North America.

“We’re really excited about hydrogen, in particular when we
think about getting not to a net-zero emissions profile but
actually to a zero-emissions carbon profile,” NextEra Energy
chief financial officer Rebecca Kujawa said on Friday’s earnings
call.

“When we looked at this five or 10 years ago�and thought about
what it would take to get to true zero emissions, we were worried
it was extraordinarily expensive for customers,†Kujawa said.

“What makes us really excited about hydrogen — particularly
in the 2030 and beyond timeframe — is the potential to supplement
a significant deployment of renewables [and energy storage]. That
last amount of emissions you’d take out of the system to get down
to zero could be most economically served by hydrogen.â€

Green hydrogen plans taking off around the world

Although still in its infancy as a market, the concept of green
hydrogen is rapidly catching on globally as a potentially viable
way to fully decarbonize energy systems, taking them beyond where
simple renewable power generation alone can go even at very high
penetrations.

The green hydrogen produced by Florida Power & Light’s
electrolyzers would be used to replace a portion of the natural gas
that’s consumed by the turbines at FPL’s existing 1.75-gigawatt
Okeechobee gas-fired plant, Kujawa said. The electricity will come
from solar power that would otherwise have been “clipped,” or gone
unused.

Most of the vast quantities of hydrogen produced globally today
use fossil fuels as the feedstock, generating substantial emissions
in the process. In contrast, green hydrogen is made using
renewables to power the electrolysis of water, producing virtually
no CO2 emissions.

Whichever way it’s produced, hydrogen can be used for a variety
of purposes, from swapping it for natural gas in existing power
plants to powering fuel cells in cars or ships. (For more
background, read
GTM’s green hydrogen explainer.
)

The
EU recently set a target
of installing 40 gigawatts of
electrolyzers within its borders by 2030 to produce green hydrogen,
as it looks for a path to net zero.

Air Products, the world’s leading hydrogen producer, recently
announced a massive green hydrogen plant to be
built in Saudi Arabia
, powered by 4 gigawatts of wind and
solar. And last week California-based fuel cell maker Bloom Energy
sent its shares soaring by announcing its
launch into the commercial hydrogen market
.

For NextEra, hydrogen not only represents an opportunity to
decarbonize its FPL utility but also a potentially huge market for
its wind and solar power.

“We continue to evaluate other potential hydrogen
opportunities across our businesses,†Kujawa said.

NextEra will start with the same “toe in the water†approach
it took with solar and batteries, she said. “While the
investments are expected to be small in the context of our overall
capital program, we are excited about the technology’s long-term
potential, which should further support future demand for low-cost
renewables as well as accelerating the decarbonization of
transportation fuel and industrial feedstocks.â€

Florida Power & Light’s push into green hydrogen comes
just weeks after the utility announced it plans to exit its
847-megawatt portion of
Georgia’s Plant Scherer
, the largest U.S. operating
coal-fired power plant — and the last remaining coal unit in
NextEra’s portfolio.

Source: FS – GreenTech Media
NextEra Energy to Build Its First Green Hydrogen Plant in
Florida