Cummins provides largest electrolyzer for public utility in U.S.

Staff Reports

Cummins Inc. is providing an electrolyzer to produce renewable hydrogen for a public utility district in Washington state. The company said it will be the largest electrolyzer, and the first of its kind, used by a public utility in the United States.

The Columbus-based company said it will provide the Douglas County Public Utility District with a 5-megawatt proton exchange membrane electrolyzer at a facility where the district plans to harvest and manufacture hydrogen from water from Wells Dam on the Columbia River. The facility is expected to be operational in 2021.

The proton exchange membrane electrolyzer system produces hydrogen from renewable energy through a chemical reaction that separates hydrogen and oxygen found in water molecules, Cummins said. The hydrogen is then used as an energy carrier and the oxygen is released into the air.

Cummins said the production of hydrogen with the electrolyzer does not generate any carbon emissions.

“At Cummins, we believe that scaling hydrogen technologies will continue to grow low-carbon solutions,” said Amy Davis, vice president and president of new power at Cummins, the company’s alternative power business. “It takes enterprises, governments and utilities working together, like what we have done with Douglas County PUD, to make alternative power a reality and promote a more sustainable world.”

Cummins said the electrolyzer technology provides a means to address one of the largest dilemmas in the renewable energy industry, which is how to store the energy when it’s not in demand. The technology enables utilities to store the excess energy that they would typically sell off to the market at a financial loss, or not harness at all, and instead store that energy to sell into a new green hydrogen market. Additionally, it creates a way for utilities to engage in new market opportunities outside of their typical service area, removing growth barriers often faced in the industry.

“Douglas County PUD is excited to work with Cummins’ Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Technologies on our 5-megawatt hydrogen electrolyzer project,” said Gary Ivory, general manager of Douglas County Public Utility District, in a statement. “This hydrogen plant will create efficiencies for our Wells Hydroelectric Project and create a new renewable hydrogen gas resource for our community. As the first renewable hydrogen production plant in Washington State, we understand the importance of great partners, and we believe Cummins’ will help us build a successful project.”