We get the sense that many hydrogen-market observers are looking for a silver bullet — the absolute best way to produce H2 cheaply and in a way that has an extremely low carbon intensity. If anything has become clear to us over the last few months, however, there isn’t likely to be an “Aha!” or “Eureka!” moment anytime soon. Rather, what we have seen so far in regard to hydrogen production has been a veritable smorgasbord of production pathways, with varying degrees of carbon intensity. While costs vary by project, it is also fair to say that a front-runner has yet to emerge when it comes to producing inexpensive hydrogen at scale. There is a silver lining though, if not a bullet, and that is the realization that there are many options when it comes to procuring environmentally friendly hydrogen. Today, we provide an update of currently proposed hydrogen projects.
It’s been a while since we wrote on hydrogen production, and various projects have popped on the scene over the last few months. Granted, they aren’t huge, but the project list in our weekly Hydrogen Billboard has continued to expand since the last time we looked at it in a blog, way back in March in I Did It. That blog focused on how to interpret hydrogen project announcements, converting the various units into terms that our fossil-fuel-oriented readers can understand. At the time, we wrote that all the projects we were tracking totaled about the same energy equivalent as one Haynesville gas well. The list has expanded by a few “wells” now, maybe even a small basin worth if the largest projects go through, so we thought it would be a good time to revisit the various project announcements to hit the market this spring.
‘Green’ Hydrogen Projects
We almost shudder at the color schemes that have been devised for hydrogen, though it sometimes helps to be able to put things in buckets and, for lack of a better method, we have lumped some of the projects into a “green” bucket. These are projects that generally use some form of electrolysis (which we covered in our second-ever hydrogen blog) to generate hydrogen from electricity and water. Also, the electricity is usually from a source with a low carbon intensity (CI). Figure 1 below summarizes the existing and planned projects in this category. As you will quickly notice, there is only one of these “green” projects currently in service in North America, that being Air Liquide’s Bécancour facility in Quebec, which started up earlier this year and utilizes hydropower to produce hydrogen with proton exchange membrane (PEM) technology.
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