The Hawai‘i Natural Energy Institute (HNEI) is conducting research to assess the technical potential and economic value of using an electrolyzer based hydrogen production and storage system as a demand response tool for grid management. 

The projects aims to:

  • Demonstrate long-term durability of the electrolyzer under cyclic operation required for frequency regulation on an island grid system;
  • Supply hydrogen for fuel-cell battery buses to be operated at Hawai‘i Volcano National Park and by the County of Hawai‘i Mass Transit Authority.


Hydrogen production through electrolysis may provide an opportunity to mitigate curtailment and grid management costs by allowing real-time load control in response to changes in electricity production. The renewable hydrogen product can also create new and incremental revenue streams to the power producers through the sale of hydrogen to customers outside of the electricity delivery system. Accordingly, hydrogen energy production at a utility scale offers the potential for increasing the levels of variable renewable energy that can be harnessed by the power producers or systems operators. HNEI has been operating a 1 MW battery on the HELCO grid and has demonstrated the ability to control grid frequency. Models comparing different sizes of electrolyzers to obtain the same results as a 1 MW battery demonstrated that electrolyzer power consumption variability is modest. 

This project evaluates the value proposition of using electrolyzers to both regulate the grid and use excess electricity from renewables to make hydrogen for transportation. An electrolyzer system will be installed in July 2015 at the NELHA on the Big Island of Hawai‘i. The electrolyzer will be operated in a dynamic mode designed to simulate future operation as a grid-connected variable load that can be quickly ramped up and down to provide frequency regulation.

Point Person: Mitch Ewan


Technical Reports