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Wind Turbine Tower for Storing Hydrogen and Energy

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Around the world, there is an increasing demand for satisfying energy requirements in ways that use less or no fossil fuels. These alternatives need to be reliable, cost effective, and environmentally sound to be adopted on a large scale. For example, as the need to stabilize energy resources increases, many nations and electric utilities are evaluating the increased use of wind as a portion of their power generation mix. Additionally, the use of hydrogen as a “clean” fuel to replace fossil fuels is being seriously considered and investigated by many in the energy industry. While hydrogen may be generated in a number of ways, a growing trend is to convert water by electrolysis to produce hydrogen. In this regard, an electrolyzer uses an electric current to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen. When a wind turbine is used to produce the hydrogen, the hydrogen can be used to drive a fuel cell or combination device which can convert hydrogen into electricity. 


Engineers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have patented a method and tower configuration for storing pressurized hydrogen or other gases within a tubular steel wind turbine tower. The hydrogen is generated by a battery selectively used for storing energy from the wind turbine or discharging stored energy (i.e., a nickel hydrogen battery) and/or by an electrolyzer used for storing energy in the form of hydrogen. In the latter example, a fuel cell or combustion device may be provided for converting the stored hydrogen back into electricity for distribution to an end user or to a utility grid. Alternatively, the stored hydrogen may be discharged for use as a fuel at a remote location (i.e., transmitted via a pipeline or other methods for sale as an alternative fuel).


Enhanced dispatch ability by allowing the wind turbine to operate when wind is available and using the energy storage system to store energy when demand is lower and to provide additional energy when demand is higher

Applications and Industries
  • Wind and hydrogen power
  • Hydrogen and energy storage


Patents and Patent Applications
ID Number
Title and Abstract
Primary Lab
Patent 7,471,010
Wind turbine tower for storing hydrogen and energy
A wind turbine tower assembly for storing compressed gas such as hydrogen. The tower assembly includes a wind turbine having a rotor, a generator driven by the rotor, and a nacelle housing the generator. The tower assembly includes a foundation and a tubular tower with one end mounted to the foundation and another end attached to the nacelle. The tower includes an in-tower storage configured for storing a pressurized gas and defined at least in part by inner surfaces of the tower wall. In one embodiment, the tower wall is steel and has a circular cross section. The in-tower storage may be defined by first and second end caps welded to the inner surface of the tower wall or by an end cap near the top of the tower and by a sealing element attached to the tower wall adjacent the foundation, with the sealing element abutting the foundation.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory 12/30/2008
Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
NREL ROI 04-01ProposedAvailable01/15/201601/15/2016

Contact NREL About This Technology

To: Erin Beaumont<>