Accelerating carbon-free hydrogen in the US
A renewable and storable source of energy, hydrogen is experiencing a breakthrough in the United States after years of sluggish growth as the Biden administration’s climate policies attract major investments.
Mark Hutchinson, CEO of Fortescue Future Industries, talks about America’s ascent in recycled energy in general and hydrogen more specifically, at CERAWeek last week energy conference in Houston, Texas.
U.S. hydrogen production has amounted to about ten million tons per year, about 10% of the world’s volume. But that output is mainly composed of so-called “gray” hydrogen, which is produced from nature Air do not take pictures carbon dioxide emissions.
Especially thanks to the infrastructure bill of 2021 and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law last year, US President Joe Biden has pledged to increase manufacturing capabilities for low- and zero-carbon sources, referred to as “blue” and “green” hydrogen.
Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas where carbon dioxide from Production process arrested. Green hydrogen is produced through renewable source.
The new US funding is huge, including $8 billion dedicated to building a network of “clean” hydrogen hubs around the country.
The IRA also offers tax credits of up to three dollars per kilogram of green hydrogen, a big chunk on a fuel that typically costs $4 to $5 to produce.
“The IRA has fundamentally changed the economics of hydrogen from renewables,” said Catherine Robinson, Managing Director, Gas, Electric and Energy Futures at S&P Global Commodity Insights. It “allows it to compete with other forms of hydrogen.”
The blues and greens should first go to “hard-to-decarbonize sectors,” said Sunita Satyapal, director of the US Department of Energy’s Office of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology. uses most of the United States’ gray hydrogen production.
This includes petroleum refining, steelmaking and the production of ammonia, which is used in fertilizers.
“Swiss Army Knife”
Outside of heavy industry, others are looking to this energy source for its storage and transport capabilities. But how much this will happen is a matter of debate.
Energy experts are optimistic about the use of hydrogen in long-distance commercial transport, where a hydrogen container can be filled in seconds. In contrast, a vehicle like the Tesla Semi truck needs half an hour to recharge its much heavier engine.
“Ten to 15 years from now, hydrogen will be essentially the new fossil fuel (in terms of its use cases). It will replace natural gas in many applications and potentially replace diesel fuel. for many transportation applications,” said study co-author Paul Matter. founder of Power to Hydrogen, an American company focused on hydrogen production and storage.
Development is also underway for rail transport, aircraft and freight trains.
But skeptics see limits to hydrogen diversification, noting that electrification is a more efficient option for cars because of the advantages of smaller batteries and the ease of setting up infrastructure. charging stage.
The scientific journal Nature has warned about “hydrogen over-inflating”.
“Hydrogen should be used with caution, to tackle emissions that cannot be eliminated in other ways,” Nature said in an editorial in November 2022, criticizing talk of the issue. Use hydrogen to heat the house.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all solution,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug Power, based in Latham, New York.
However, he sees hydrogen as “the Swiss Army knife in this transition”, providing “a plethora of mobile applications, of which hydrogen is really the only solution.”
Several new US projects around hydrogen have been announced, but many more are anticipated once detailed IRA rules are finalized, expected in the second half of 2023.
Several major manufacturing plants have been announced since 2021 in New York state and California.
“Scaling can happen within five to 10 years. It’s been done before,” said Alan Hayes, Head of Energy Transformation Pricing at S&P Global Commodity Insights.
US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm promised at CERAWeek to resolve issues of licensing delays for new projects. hydrogen basis.
In Texas, two major projects are underway, one to the south called Hydrogen City, the other to the north at an estimated cost of $4 billion. Long a stronghold of oil and natural gas, Texas is now vying to lead the United States in renewable energy.
“If you talk to anybody from Texas,” says Hayes, “they love to tell you, c7 ‘We build things.'”
© 2023 AFP
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