A Huge Underground Battery Is Coming to a Tiny Utah Town

January 12, 2024 - Fountain, Henry; Riggio, Nina.

The project is part of an audacious plan to create hydrogen, which produces no carbon dioxide when burned, and store it in caverns until electricity is needed.

Outside Delta, a one-stoplight town in the scrublands of central Utah, a giant batteryistaking shape underground.

Two caverns, each as deep as the Empire State Building is tall, are being created from ageological salt formation, using water to dissolve and remove the salt. When completed next year, the caverns will be able to store ahuge amount of energy, but in a form that is vastly different from the chemical batteries found in everything from flashlights to cars.

Here, the energy will be stored as hydrogen gas.

As the world seeks to fight climate change by burning less coal, oil and other fossil fuels, the spotlight is shifting to hydrogen as an alternative. Hydrogen produces no planet-warming emissions when burned, making it a potential replacement fuel in transportation, electricity generation and industries like the making of cement and steel.

But with this project and a second mammoth construction site across the street, developers are taking hydrogen’s potential to another level.

The developers, including Chevron, which bought a majority stake in one of the projects in September, plan to produce hydrogen using excess solar and wind power in spring and fall, when demand for electricity is low, and store it in the caverns. Then in the summer, when electricity demand is high, it would be burned in the second project, a power plant that would use a blend of hydrogen and natural gas...


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