March 28, 2022 • Paul Rodden • Season: 2022 • Episode: 102
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In episode 102, Can the US help the EU in their energy crisis? We'll dive into that today on the hydrogen podcast.
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Can the US help the EU in their energy crisis? We'll dive into that today on the hydrogen podcast.
So the big questions in the energy industry today are, how is hydrogen the primary driving force behind the evolution of energy? Where is capital being deployed for hydrogen projects globally? And where are the best investment opportunities for early adopters recognize the importance of hydrogen? I will address the critical issues and give you the information you need to deploy capital. Those are the questions that will unlock the potential of hydrogen, and this podcast will give you the answers. My name is Paul Rodden, and welcome to the hydrogen podcast.
In an article from bloomberg.com, Jennifer Dlouhy and David Baker write Biden eye's long term hydrogen breakthrough and plan to send gas to EU. They write the Biden administration says infrastructure needed under a plan announced Friday, March 25. To boost natural gas shipments to Europe will be built that it can be converted later to distribute climate friendly hydrogen. In the short term, the pipelines, tanks and terminals could expand the use of liquefied natural gas and encourage more production in the United States, drawing ire of environmentalists who want to wean the world from hydrocarbons, but under the vision outlined by the US and the European Union, the equipment could eventually be repurposed to transport hydrogen. A colorless, odorless gas, hydrogen is considered a potential breakthrough source of clean energy. When fed through a fuel cell or burned in turbines. It generates electricity without producing greenhouse gases.
And it's seen as one of the few ways to remove carbon dioxide emissions from industrial manufacturing, where high heat is required. A joint US EU statement announcing plans to reduce Europe's reliance on Russian gas so the two sides will build quote, clean renewable hydrogen ready infrastructure. They also pledged to use clean energy to power new operations and plug methane leaks in the equipment and associated pipelines. The goal is to ensure any new pipelines are built with the right materials, valves and equipment so they can be easily adapted to carry hydrogen. A senior Administration official told reporters Friday. By contrast, repurposing conventional natural gas pipelines to safely carry hydrogen is difficult and expensive. Climate activists scoffed at the plan, arguing that it prolongs the world's dependence on natural gas as its main component methane as a source for hydrogen.
Quote, nothing can justify a massive expansion of hydrocarbon infrastructure that would devastate communities and make it impossible to achieve our climate goals and avert the worst of the climate crisis. This is according to Kelly Sheehan, Senior Director of Energy campaigns at the Sierra Club. The plan was cheered by a coalition of companies working to advance and deploy hydrogen including Air Liquide SA, Linde Plc and Cummins Inc. In a quote from the Hydrogen Forward Coalition decarbonized hydrogen will play a key role in reducing emissions, particularly in the harder electrify sectors of the global economy. And agreements like this one will ease the transition as markets increasingly move to lower carbon fuels. Building pipelines for hydrogen transport initially would allow much greater use of the fuel going beyond existing goals to blend modest amounts of it into gas as a way of reducing power plant emissions. This is according to David Burns. Linde’s vice president of clean energy development he continues with if you're going to build a new pipeline, you'd build it hydrogen ready so it meets specifications and requirements for hydrogen. You can't turn it from one day using LNG to the next day using hydrogen.
But even at LNG export facilities, there are ways to build in flexibility he said. The US EU approach is consistent with the vision of many natural gas producers that see production of hydrogen as a way to buttress long term demand for hydrocarbons. Yet the green bonafides of hydrogen depend on how it's produced. The vast majority of hydrogen generated today is stripped from natural gas, with steam and a technique that releases planet warming carbon dioxide, the process can be made cleaner by trapping that carbon dioxide on site and plugging leaks of methane but there's a near emission free alternative using electrolysis to split hydrogen molecules from water. Truly green hydrogen plants that use electrolysis to generate the fuel are powered by renewable energy. The US and EU reiterated their climate goals Friday saying that they're committed to limiting warming to one and a half degrees Celsius. They said natural gas remains an important part of the EU energy system in the green transition, including by ensuring that the carbon intensity decreases over time. Yet those climate promises are undermined if new infrastructure is leveraged to create natural gas based hydrogen in the future. Again, according to Sheehan.
She continues by saying hydrogen made from methane gas is a false solution to the hydrocarbon industry, which is selling to greenwash their dirty product and lock in reliance on gas for decades. The Biden administration shouldn't be fooled. leaks of methane a potent greenhouse gas also could exacerbate the climate impact of a big shift to hydrogen. Methane is the prime component of natural gas. But when it escapes from wells, pipelines and other equipment, it helps trap heat in the atmosphere. Regardless of whether it's used as a source of energy or a hydrogen feedstock, natural gas production would be encouraged by the US EU plan. Environmentalists said that it will inevitably unleash more pollution, with communities near drilling operations and coastal liquefaction facilities bearing the brunt. In a quote from John Beard, founder of the Port Arthur Community Action Network in Texas, the Biden administration and the EU give hydrocarbon industry a green light to transform the Gulf Coast into a sacrifice zone for fracked Gas.
President Biden can't call himself the climate President while ignoring the needs and realities of impacted communities. Okay, so quite a loaded article from Bloomberg, and one that raises a lot of questions. And really, let's just start with the biggest question here. Does Europe have an energy crisis? Well, the simple answer is yes. And yes, hydrogen can help solve that crisis. But that being said, Where's the hydrogen going to come from? Well, the truth is, LNG's are a great source for hydrogen. And when produced responsibly, hydrocarbon derived hydrogen is the best solution in this scenario, economically speaking. Now, I understand why groups like the Sierra Club are adamantly against this process. These groups have been fighting oil and gas companies for decades. And so when these companies give their word that they're going to clean up emissions, groups like the Sierra Club just don't believe them. Regardless of this history.
Europe is still facing an energy crisis. And the thing is, this energy crisis started before Russia invaded Ukraine, and that there were interior countries in Europe that were not getting the natural gas promised to them by Russia. And so if the US can ship natural gas to the EU for energy, and that natural gas is used in the form of hydrogen, that is a massive step towards decarbonisation, while addressing the current energy needs of the EU, that does start to bring us into the next question. That's infrastructure, what kind of infrastructure should be built out in Europe to start handling this hydrogen supply? If infrastructure does get built out in the EU to start making hydrogen from LNG, does that push back the need for electrolysis derived hydrogen? And I really don't think so. The European Backbone Plan for hydrogen is already in development, which means modifying existing pipelines to support hydrogen or building new pipelines now, which are already hydrogen certified. And so when it comes to running hydrogen through these pipelines, it's not going to matter the source of that hydrogen. But what about the plants themselves that are getting built to create hydrogen from hydrocarbons? Well, it's important to keep in mind that drilled hydrocarbons are not the only source for natural gas. And that renewable natural gas is another good source for hydrocarbons, and one which can be utilized for decades to come.
Also, the current energy demand for Europe is not going anywhere, in fact, it will probably only increase. And so that being said, as electrolysis derived hydrogen becomes more and more cost competitive with hydrocarbon derived hydrogen, those projects will continue to get built, and will only aid in supplying more electricity to the needs of Europe. But there is one trick that hydrocarbon hydrogen has up its sleeve that electrolysis doesn't. And that has the potential to capture solid carbon. And I believe that solid carbon will be a critical element in the future as we begin to make products stronger and lighter. Solid carbon can play a massive role in that. But all that being said, the focus going forward will be on all the natural gas producers in the United States. Just how clean can they make their operations? Well, luckily, there are organizations and technologies out now that can scan and monitor the natural gas infrastructure, looking for any methane leaks, which really is the most critical gas to measure, since its global warming potential is several times worse than co2.
Alright, that's it for me everyone. If you have any questions, comments or concerns about today's episode, come visit me at thehydrogenpodcast.com. Or you can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would really love to hear from you. And as always, take care. Stay safe. I'll talk to you later.
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