LINCOLN, NE – Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), Nebraska’s largest electric utility, plans to replace an existing coal-fired boiler at its Sheldon Station plant in Hallam, NE, with one that uses clean-burning hydrogen fuel. The hydrogen will be produced by Monolith Materials as a co-product from its production of carbon black using natural gas as a feedstock. The collaborative undertaking is expected to create good-paying jobs at the site and enable NPPD to continue to generate and deliver affordable, reliable and sustainable energy to Nebraskans.
To obtain this new hydrogen fuel source in Nebraska, NPPD is working with Monolith Materials – a manufacturing company that produces hydrogen as a byproduct in its production of cleanly made carbon black. When burned, the hydrogen fuel produces zero greenhouse gas emissions. Through this agreement, NPPD is expected to reduce CO2 emissions at Sheldon Station by 1.1 million tons per year. The Sheldon Station boiler using hydrogen as a fuel will continue to be capable of generating 125 megawatts of electricity for NPPD’s customers. The boiler conversion is also expected to result in a dramatic reduction in other types of air emissions, as well as aide in NPPD’s maintaining service as a low-cost energy producer for Nebraskans.
“We are embarking on a new chapter in the history of Sheldon Station and electric generation in Nebraska with the decision by Monolith Materials to locate in Nebraska,” said NPPD President and CEO Pat Pope. “Sheldon Station has always been a place of firsts – the first nuclear plant in Nebraska and now the first utility-scale hydrogen-powered generator. We are very proud of this facility and the people who work here.”
The addition of hydrogen as a fuel source will further NPPD’s diverse generation portfolio and will bring its carbon-free energy sources closer to 50 percent, while reducing air emissions from Unit 2 at Sheldon to close to zero.
“This is an example of the next-generation of American innovation and energy production that will also have a positive economic impact in Nebraska, and deliver clean and affordable energy to the state. This private business-led solution has the potential to support 600 new jobs and hundreds of millions of new capital investment in the state of Nebraska,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts.
Monolith Materials will use a safe, patented and environmentally friendly process to manufacture carbon black. Monolith uses natural gas as feedstock in its process instead of oil or coal tar as in the conventional process. A co-product of its manufacturing process is plentiful hydrogen, which NPPD intends to use to generate electric energy.
Monolith will build its new manufacturing facility adjacent to Sheldon Station so NPPD can easily access the hydrogen. Monolith will power its new manufacturing facility with electricity from Norris Public Power District, headquartered in Beatrice, NE.
“Americans care about the quality of their air and water, and the sustainability of their everyday household products and energy use,” said Robert Hanson, Monolith’s co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer. “Together, Monolith and NPPD are helping reduce pollution, while still adding jobs and maintaining energy production. Additionally, Monolith plans to bring a cleaner process to a carbon black plant for the first time in the United States, which will help our country grow this important industry and expand America’s manufacturing economy.”
This initiative is not dependent on federal government grants or loan guarantees. Instead, innovative technology, affordable electricity and the country’s vast supply of low-cost natural gas allows for the production of products at market competitive prices.
“This is the first large-scale utility operation to generate electricity through the use of hydrogen and something in which NPPD takes pride in having the opportunity to lead the way,” added Pope.
The companies expect to break-ground on their respective operations in 2016, with an expected completion date of 2019.