I Did It - Converting Hydrogen's Units Is an Accomplishment in Itself

When it comes to energy markets analysis, there’s nothing quite like spending the better part of an afternoon piecing together a long chain of unit conversions only to find the next day you’ve misplaced the sticky notes on which you wrote them. We’ve all been there, though for most of us it’s become commonplace to memorize the few hydrocarbon conversions needed to get through a lunch or happy hour. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said when it comes to hydrogen, which brings its own set of unique units of measure, many of them not usually bantered around your typical business development discussion. Crunching through them is tough, in our experience, and we find ourselves writing them down over and over again. Which gave us an idea: why not write a blog on the topic? Fortunately, we are in that business, and today we continue our series on hydrogen with a look a green hydrogen production projects and the math needed to make sense of them.

Every two weeks on Thursdays we are in this space discussing our favorite non-hydrocarbon fuel. If you want to catch up on our hydrogen-related research, you might start with our initial blog from last fall, which also introduced a few of hydrogen’s unique characteristics. Also, since we discuss hydrogen production projects today, you may also find our blog on production technologies useful, as well as the follow-up to that piece that focused on production economics. Today we look at existing and planned green hydrogen projects, specifically those that will produce the fuel through electrolysis of water, but we will spend quite a bit of time wrapping our minds around the math needed to really understand the size — or lack thereof — of the various announced initiatives.

Shown below in Figure 1 is our current list of what for now passes for commercial-scale green hydrogen projects in North America, a summary that we keep updated in our weekly Hydrogen Billboard. So far, it’s a pretty short list, but it does seem like the pace of project announcements is starting to pick up steam and we may have missed a few of the smaller ones. We don’t mean to offend in that regard, so if you see an omission, feel free to send us a kind note. Still, the list is long enough to start garnering some knowledge around how green hydrogen projects are presented and discussed. You’ll noticed some usual items in the table, such as the projects’ names and operators. We have also included the electrolysis technology used, where that information is available. Note that PEM in the table stands for proton exchange membrane, which we covered back in the production technology blog referenced above. Also, note that we classify these projects as “green” and you may want to reference our initial blog for an introduction to hydrogen’s color scheme. Also included in Figure 1 are two columns for capacity, though you will notice the units are not what we are used to in the hydrocarbon world. Each project’s capacity is listed in megawatts (MW for short) and kilograms per day (kg/day). We will discuss these units in more detail below, but first wanted to give a brief outline of each project.

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