The US Energy Department’s hydrogen gamble: Putting the cart before the horse

February 28, 2023

Suzanne Mattei and David Schlissel and Dennis Wamsted, IEEFA


It’s a problem of timing. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is about to make decisions on whether to fund methane-based hydrogen hubs, when it does not yet know whether such hubs will be clean enough to qualify—reliably and over the long term—for the grant of funding. Charging ahead without that knowledge is putting the cart before the horse.

The federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act of 2021, Section 40314, authorizes the DOE to invest billions of dollars to commercialize technologies that strengthen U.S. energy independence and cut carbon emissions. The statute allocates $8 billion for building regional clean hydrogen hubs. These hubs are not experimental pilot projects (funding for which is established in another section of the law), but rather infrastructure development projects to establish jobs-generating, hydrogen-based industrial centers. The program is designed to encourage hydrogen production not only from electrolysis of water, but also from chemical processing of methane from natural gas—if the carbon emissions can be captured efficiently enough to qualify the project as “clean.”

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Russia sanctions and gas price crisis reveal danger of investing in “blue” hydrogen

May 23, 2022

Arjun Flora and Ana Maria Jaller-Makarewicz IEEFA

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Key Findings

Elevated gas prices and a future tight market means blue hydrogen is no longer a low-cost solution.

IEEFA estimates that blue hydrogen costs published by the UK government last year are now 36% higher, calling into question continued policy support for development of the technology.

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Does the world need hydrogen to solve climate change?

Hydrogen gas has long been recognised as an alternative to fossil fuels and a potentially valuable tool for tackling climate change.

Now, as nations come forward with net-zero strategies to align with their international climate targets, hydrogen has once again risen up the agenda from Australia and the UK through to Germany and Japan.

In the most optimistic outlooks, hydrogen could soon power trucks, planes and ships. It could heat homes, balance electricity grids and help heavy industry to make everything from steel to cement.

But doing all these things with hydrogen would require staggering quantities of the fuel, which is only as clean as the methods used to produce it. Moreover, for every potentially transformative application of hydrogen, there are unique challenges that must be overcome.

In this in-depth Q&A – which includes a range of infographics, maps and interactive charts, as well as the views of dozens of experts – Carbon Brief examines the big questions around the “hydrogen economy” and looks at the extent to which it could help the world avoid dangerous climate change.

What is hydrogen and how could it help tackle climate change?

Hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant element in the universe. It is also an explosive and clean-burning gas that contains more energy per unit of weight than fossil fuels.

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Hydrogen Economy Hints at New Global Power Dynamics

IRENA says green hydrogen could disrupt global trade and bilateral energy relations, reshaping the positioning of states with new hydrogen exporters and users emerging  
Rapid growth of global hydrogen economy can bring significant geoeconomic & geopolitical shifts
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, 15 January 2022 – Rapid growth of the global hydrogen economy can bring significant geoeconomic and geopolitical shifts giving rise to a wave of new interdependencies, according to new analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation: The Hydrogen Factor sees hydrogen changing the geography of energy trade and regionalising energy relations, hinting at the emergence of new centres of geopolitical influence built on the production and use of hydrogen, as traditional oil and gas trade declines. ->

Hydrogen Production and Uses – The role of nuclear power

(Updated November 2021)

  • Hydrogen is increasingly seen as a key component of future energy systems if it can be made without carbon dioxide emissions. 
  • It is starting to be used as a transport fuel, despite the need for high-pressure containment.   
  • The use of hydrogen in the production of liquid transport fuels from crude oil is increasing rapidly, and is vital where tar sands are the oil source. 
  • Hydrogen can be combined with carbon dioxide to make methanol or dimethyl ether (DME) which are important transport fuels. 
  • Hydrogen also has future application as industrial-scale replacement for coke in steelmaking and other metallurgical processes. 
  • Nuclear energy can be used to make hydrogen electrolytically, and in the future high-temperature reactors are likely to be used to make it thermochemically. 
  • The energy demand for hydrogen production could exceed that for electricity production today. 

Hydrogen is not found in free form (H2) but must be liberated from molecules such as water or methane. It is therefore not an energy source and must be made, using energy. It is already a significant chemical product, about half of annual pure hydrogen production being used in making nitrogen fertilisers via the Haber process and about one-quarter to convert low-grade crude oils (especially those from tar sands) into liquid transport fuels. There is a lot of experience handling hydrogen on a large scale, though it is not as straightforward as natural gas.  

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Creating the new hydrogen economy is a massive undertaking

It is also a delicate one

Oct 9th 2021


Today’s hydrogen business is, in global terms, reasonably small, very dirty and completely vital. Some 90m tonnes of the stuff are produced each year, providing revenues of over $150bn—approaching those of ExxonMobil, an oil and gas company. This is done almost entirely by burning fossil fuels with air and steam—a process which uses up 6% of the world’s natural gas and 2% of its coal and emits more than 800m tonnes of carbon dioxide, putting the industry’s emissions on the same level as those of Germany.Listen to this story

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Việt Nam ứng phó với biến đổi khí hậu: Những mặt tích cực và hạn chế

RFI –  01/11/2021

Việt Nam ứng phó với biến đổi khí hậu: Những mặt tích cực và hạn chế - Tạp  chí Việt Nam
Ảnh tư liệu chụp ngày 21/09/2009, tại Sài Gòn, Việt Nam, sau một cơn mưa lớn. Do tác động của biến đổi khí hậu, tình trạng ngập lụt ở các thành phố miền nam ngày càng trầm trọng. ASSOCIATED PRESS – Le Quang Nhat

Là một trong 4 quốc gia gánh chịu những tác hại năng nề nhất của biến đổi khí hậu, tại Hội nghị Thượng đỉnh Paris COP 21, Việt Nam đã cam kết sẽ cắt giảm 8% lượng khí nhà kính phát thải vào năm 2030 so với năm 2005 và có thể giảm đến 25% nếu nhận được sự hỗ trợ hiệu quả từ cộng đồng quốc tế.QUẢNG CÁO

Nhân dịp hội nghị khí hậu COP 26 vừa khai mạc ở Glasgow ngày 31/10/2021, chúng ta hãy tìm hiểu xem các biện pháp ứng phó với biến đổi khí hậu của Việt Nam có những mặt tích cực và những hạn chế nào? Mời quý vị nghe ý kiến của tiến sĩ Huỳnh Long Vân, Nhóm Nghiên cứu Văn Hóa Đồng Nai Cửu Long Úc Châu.

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