Published on 8 November 2020 |
by Tina Casey
November 8, 2020 by Tina Casey
If US President-elect Joe Biden does not support any fossil fuel industry, he will follow in the footsteps of the outgoing President * Donald J. Trump. Willful or not, Trump has been monitoring the demise of the domestic coal, oil and natural gas industries. The latest developments happened on Election Day, when a plan worth $ 7 billion, spanning 20 years of liquid natural gas exports from the US to France suddenly evaporated. That could have to do with the launch of a new investor-oriented green hydrogen R&D center in Europe and Trump̵7;s own Department of Energy determined to reflect the hydrogen angle right in the US.
What Are You Saying This Green Hydrogen?
President Trump won the 2016 Oval Office with a promise to save on coal jobs, but since then, coal, oil and gas have declined. The writing was hung on the wall during the Obama administration, as top US and global businesses lined up in favor of wind and solar. The private sector’s dollars continued to power the wind and solar industries throughout Trump’s tenure, with generous support from the US Department of Energy.
What few people talked about during the 2016 election cycle is the potential for green hydrogen to pull the carpet out of the US fossil fuel industry, especially with regards to shale gas.
Hydrogen has been a major driver of the fossil gas industry, because hydrogen does not exist on its own. It had to be extracted from something, and for generations that was fossil gas.
They should have seen it coming. Hydrogen is a widely used industrial chemical, with applications in fuels, food processing, refining, metallurgy, fertilizer production, medicine and personal care products. Lots of companies curious about sustainability will be very interested in their idea of cleaning up their supply chains by removing fossil-derived hydrogen.
CleanTechnica caught a whisper of hints of a change in hydrogen sustainability in August 2015 during a visit to Switzerland, where researchers are working on something called electricity to gas.
Power-to-gas refers to electrolysis systems, which deploy electricity to separate hydrogen gas from water. It’s inevitable if electricity comes from a fossil power plant, but the advent of low-cost wind and solar is changing the game, in many ways.
Wind and solar are intermittent resources, so they also unlock the value of storing and transporting energy in hydrogen. As an energy carrier, hydrogen can store renewable energy in large quantities, for long periods of time. Hydrogen can also be transported by pipes, trucks, ships or railways, meaning it can be deployed to fix gaps or congestion in electrical infrastructure.
To be sure, in November 2015, the US Department of Energy has included green energy as gas in a group of six “transformative” energy projects that will be funded through its ARPA-E office.
Green hydrogen is good news for fuel-cell passenger car fans, but it’s only one small aspect of the market potential. Fuel cell activity is increasing in long distance, marine and aircraft operations, and in the green. Steel and cement producers are also among the high carbon industries with an interest in the transition to hydrogen-powered operations.
Green hydrogen increased, fossil gas decreased
That brings us to the 2020 General Election. In October, just four weeks before Election Day, the Department of Energy decided that it would be a good idea to announce a new R&D partnership on Clean energy with the Netherlands, a country that only uses green hydrogen as white rice due to the wind in the offshore. resources that the US is also very abundant.
Also in October, the Department of Energy announced the creation of a new R&D consortium aimed primarily at green hydrogen for the fuel cell industry, building on another sustainable hydrogen initiative launched in November. Six.
As if those flags weren’t red enough for U.S. gas stakeholders, in October the French government kept an eye on a proposed liquid natural gas deal that would bring LNG sourced. from shale from America to France. The deal was brokered by global company Engie on behalf of the US gas company NextDecade.
It was all in a shaky past, because last week, Engie revealed that the plan was over. Perhaps NextDecade could find some other deal makers, but according to our friends at SP Global, the company has repeatedly delayed the construction of the Rio Grande LNG facility as planned. .
Ironically, Trump’s own environmental policies may have helped quell the deal. Environmental advocates have pointed out that US shale gas is not in compliance with France’s climate action targets due to Trump’s easing of methane emission rules.
If shale gas stakeholders are looking to the US petrochemical industry to save them, they may want to guess again. Plans for a network of five new petrochemical plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio have been broken over the past few years, and a new $ 9 billion petrochemical facility in Louisiana stumbled upon last week, when United States Army Corps of Engineers suspended license. .
Nuclear doesn’t look too hot these days,
It’s not just the Netherlands. The whole EU has been exhibiting green hydrogen for some time now and this activity is underway as part of the EU green recovery plan.
That’s where this new green hydrogen R&D business comes in, and that’s where things get interesting for nuclear energy stakeholders.
Among all the public events surrounding the signing of the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, one particular notable figure is the New Groundbreaking Energy Alliance and the Breakthrough Energy investor group. , co-founded by top clean energy fan Bill Gates.
At the time, Gates was covering nuclear power in the clean energy sector of a company called TerraPower, but according to Breakthrough, those plans seemed to be slowing down as the blue hydrogen trend evaporated.
Last week, Breakthrough announced that it was supporting a new green hydrogen R&D venture under the banner of leading EIT InnoEnergy, leading sustainable energy center.
Dubbed Europe’s Green Hydrogen Acceleration Center, the new project is aiming “the development of a 100 billion euro annual green hydrogen economy by 2025 could generate half a million direct jobs. and indirectly in the blue hydrogen value chain ”, through“ significant hydrocarbon shifts in energy-intensive industrial applications (such as steel, cement, chemicals), heavy transportation (i.e. marine and heavy) and fertilizer ”.
EIT InnoEnergy also points out “Green hydrogen can also be used for energy storage, which makes it a key element for the expansion of volatile renewable energy sources, especially wind and Solar”.
The European battery union also lends its firepower in terms of energy storage.
As for the green recovery corner, according to Breakthrough Energy’s Senior Director, Ann Mettler, the EU’s green recovery plan makes it “the perfect launch pad for Europe’s Green Hydrogen Acceleration Center”.
“Based on political dynamics, the Center will use blue hydrogen as the driving force for deep carbon reduction in European industry,” Mettler admires. “In this context, it will create a pioneering system of large-scale projects, launch a new generation of public-private partnerships and accelerate distribution from mega- to gigawatts.”
If that doesn’t sound good for fossil gas, it’s not. It could also cause problems for the nuclear industry.
There was a time when nuclear fans had the idea that nuclear power plants could support green hydrogen production, but that idea was losing light as the cost of wind and solar energy continued. along with the development of companion technologies such as floating solar panels, distributed wind turbines and pumped storage hydroelectricity.
A quick look at the United States shows that the problem is in the very few conventional nuclear power plants that are just coming up, behind schedule, and over budget.
The U.S. nuclear industry has been hoping for a new approach that involves assembling small, modular nuclear power plants in a plant, then shipping them out for assembly. put.
Unfortunately for nuclear fans, the idea seems to have fallen on a brick wall.
A company called NuScale was set up to install 12 modular nuclear power plants on the Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory campus, and the deal captured some adrenaline in October, in the form of a $ 1 billion grant from the Department of Energy.
However, 8 out of 36 add-ons that have signed the plan have turned and are up and running in recent weeks. As reported by our friends at Science magazine, bailout packages following a dire announcement by the plant’s intended buyer, Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, expected a 3-year delay and costs an additional $ 1.9 billion, pushing the completion date back to 2030 at a total cost of $ 6.1 billion.
Meanwhile, it is worth noting that the Idaho National Laboratory has a long-standing hydrogen research program under its belt, and it is also one of the Energy Department’s laboratories leading the durable hydrogen group. new firm.
Additionally, Utah is the backdrop of a massive new energy project that will transform a coal power plant into an original mixture of fossil gas and blue hydrogen, deploying new Mitsubishi turbines designed to process 100% of real hydrogen. whenever available.
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* Story development.
Photo: “Dr. Dong Ding (right) and his GEM classmate Joshua Gomez (L) are testing an indoors solid oxide electrolysis cell, which will be used to produce hydrogen through steam electrolysis at high temperatures ”(Source: Idaho National Laboratory via Eurekalert).
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