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Published on January 29th, 2012 | by Andrew

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Long Island Town Pioneers Closed-Loop, Pollution-Free Wind Power-Hydrogen Fuel System

January 29th, 2012 by  


Photo courtesy Town of Hempstead

Outside of New York City on Long Island, the town of Hempstead is the site for a small, though novel, experiment in closed-loop clean energy production, storage, and use. There, a 100-kilowatt (kW) “state-of-the-art” wind turbine is being used to generate electricity sufficient to produce hydrogen gas that’s being used to fuel the town’s fuel cell vehicles, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) reports.

The entire closed-loop system is 100% pollution-free and could serve as a model for public-private partnerships in general, as well as for similar 100%-clean-energy installations to come. Working with Hempstead Town, the project is a joint effort by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, the New York Institute of Technology, Wilke Engineering, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), Northern Power Systems, National Grid, Proton Energy Systems, the Point Lookout and Lido Beach Civic Associations, and the Point Lookout-Lido Fire Dept.

Located near the coast, steady winds off the Atlantic provide the energy for a 121-foot Northern Power Systems’ wind turbine capable of operating almost continuously and generating up to 180-megawatts (MW) of electrical power a year. The electricity is used to split hydrogen from water as a gas, which is stored and then dispensed from Long Island’s only hydrogen refueling station at Hempstead’s Conservation and Waterways Dept. in Pt. Lookout.

DOE Grant Powers Public-Private Sector Initiatives

Air Products is providing the hydrogen production and storage technology. The hydrogen fuel will be used by the town’s Toyota fuel-cell vehicles and a fuel-cell bus, a fleet that the town’s leaders are now looking to expand.

The clean, renewable hydrogen fuel and electrical power the system produces is expected to save LIPA customers an estimated $40,000. Actual savings will vary based on the town utility’s variable rate structure. The electrical energy surplus to hydrogen production needs will be fed into LIPA’s grid, which is operated under contract by National Grid.

“By utilizing the great wind resource in Long Island, the Northern Power 100 wind turbine will help provide real cost savings, emissions reductions and energy security to the Town of Hempstead,” Brett Pingree, sales and marketing VP for Northern Power Systems, commented. “It makes perfect sense that a forward-thinking municipality would be the one to lead by example as we all plan for our evolving energy future.”

Hempstead applied for and received a $4.6-million grant from the Dept. of Energy (DOE) to fund the project. Installing the wind turbine cost $615,000, while Town personnel performed some $150,000 worth of electrical and marine bulkheading. according to IREC’s report.

Applauding the efforts of the local government leaders who spearheaded the project, LIPA COO Michael D. Hervey was quoted as saying, “Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead are true Long Island leaders in advancing the use of solar and wind into Long Island’s energy portfolio.

“LIPA was happy to provide technical assistance with this project, and remains committed to working with our residents, local governments, businesses, and community leaders to promote and invest in energy efficiency and renewable technologies through our nationally recognized solar, wind and Efficiency Long Island programs, which help to improve our environment and accelerate the clean energy economy.”

Building a Clean Energy Community

Hempstead’s moving forward across multiple clean energy and energy conservation fronts, IREC notes. In addition to the wind-electricity-hydrogen system, the town’s investing the DOE grant money to construct a 60-kW solar field, two solar trackers, a solar PV carport and a geothermal energy project, all of which are located at its Conservation and Waterways facility. EmPower Solar is the private sector provider for the solar PV system.

The DOE grant flows through its Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. Recipients of block grants, such as Hempstead, “are deploying innovative clean energy products and services and helping families, businesses and governments reduce energy waste,” the Program Lead for the U.S. DOE program was quoted as saying. “This project can serve as a model for other local governments that want to use renewable energy sources to reduce the need to buy gas and diesel fuel and save money in the process.”

The awarding of the grant has enabled Hempstead to fund clean-energy and energy-conservation projects while keeping a lid on local taxes. The town has put a freeze on tax increases for 2012, the IREC report notes. 
 


 


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About the Author

I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.



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