Posts from Jason Lindquist

The Biden administration recently announced a very ambitious — to say the least — rule on tailpipe emissions. But while the rule’s legal and political standing might be a bit uncertain — it’s seen by many as a de facto ban on conventionally fueled cars and trucks and is likely to face several court challenges — doubts also remain about whether it matches up with the realities of today’s energy world. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the new rule, what it would mean for U.S. consumers and automakers, and how it conflicts with the views of RBN’s Refined Fuels Analytics (RFA) practice on the future of global oil and refined products demand and the rate of electric vehicle (EV) adoption. 

The Biden administration has placed some big bets on clean hydrogen, seeing it as a replacement fuel for some hard-to-abate industries and putting it at the heart of its long-term decarbonization efforts. But while clean hydrogen has significant long-term potential — backed by major subsidies, including the 45V production tax credit (PTC) — figuring out a path to a greater role in the U.S. energy mix is more complicated than it might seem. The proposed rules around the tax credit have stirred up a hornet’s nest worth of criticism from those who think the guidance might ultimately do more harm than good. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll preview our latest Drill Down Report on the incentives — primarily the 45V tax credit — intended to expand the clean hydrogen industry and examine some of the barriers to significant growth. 

When the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was passed into law in August 2022, it earned near-unanimous acclaim from longtime supporters of renewable energy and decarbonization efforts. Industry types also approved of the bill’s focus on incentives to fuel new developments. One of its most ambitious elements was creation of the 45V production tax credit (PTC) for clean hydrogen, a central part of the Biden administration’s efforts to build a clean-energy economy. But while the PTC may have a significant impact on the U.S. energy landscape over the long run, the December 2023 rollout of the proposed rulemaking has generated no small amount of criticism. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll lay out some of the changes that some say should be included in the final rulemaking to help the clean-hydrogen economy make a quick break from the starting gate instead of getting left at the back of the pack. 

The federal government’s Hydrogen Production Tax Credit (PTC), also known as 45V, provides the highest incentives for hydrogen produced using clean sources of power generation, like wind and solar. That might seem like great news for current and potential hydrogen producers looking to take advantage of the credit, since the U.S. has added significant renewable generation capacity in the last several years, but the reality is much different. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll explain how “additionality” fits into the “three pillars” of clean hydrogen, how it would be calculated under the proposed guidance, and some ways the rules might be adjusted to give hydrogen producers and power generators a little more flexibility. 

The Biden administration has placed some big bets on clean hydrogen, seeing it as a replacement fuel for some hard-to-abate industries and putting it at the heart of its long-term decarbonization efforts. All of these bets are backed by a brand-new tax credit. But the goal isn’t just to drive production of more hydrogen — it’s also to make hydrogen in a specific way, with measurable decreases in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That means producing hydrogen that qualifies for the tax credit is going to be a lot easier said than done. The proposed rules include a concept called deliverability — one of the “three pillars” of clean hydrogen — that adds further challenges to producers hoping to cash in on the tax credit and puts into further peril any number of potential projects. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll explain how deliverability works, how it fits into the proposed rules, and the challenges it will pose for hydrogen producers and power generators alike. 

Discussions and debates around the carbon-capture industry have been everywhere in recent years, from the federal incentives designed to spur its growth and the role it might play in decarbonization efforts to the technical challenges and economic headwinds that add uncertainty to its long-term outlook. And while all of those are important topics worthy of future conversation, none of those potential projects are going to happen without somewhere to put all that carbon dioxide (CO2). The wells used for permanent CO2 sequestration are largely approved at the federal level by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) but a few states have gained control — aka “primacy” — over the permitting process. In today’s RBN blog, we explain what it means to have primacy, why it has become an increasingly important goal in recent years, and the potential benefits that come with it. 

The long-delayed rules around the federal government’s Hydrogen Production Tax Credit (PTC), also known as 45V, have been the subject of heated debate (and lobbying) since passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022. While some industry groups argued for looser guidelines around the PTC that would allow the low-carbon hydrogen industry to grow quickly, others called for a stricter set of rules from the start, arguing that an approach that was too lax would lead to an increase in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at how those newly published rules rely on the so-called “three pillars” of clean hydrogen, how they prioritize production of green hydrogen at the expense of its blue and pink varieties, and explain the rules around temporal matching and why it might be hard to hit the administration’s 2028 target date for implementation. 

Renewable diesel (RD) production has been surging this year, far surpassing blending mandates established by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). But there may be storm clouds on the horizon. The jump in RD production has led to excess generation of Renewable Identification Numbers (RINs), the tool used to ensure compliance with the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), impacting RD economics. With RD production set to move even higher in 2024 amid already-declining margins, it has left some to wonder how the market will come back into balance. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the growth in RD production, the resulting impact on RIN volumes and prices, and how things could shake out next year. 

It’s been a tough couple of months for developers of large-scale, multi-state carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects, which have been stung by widespread public opposition and often hamstrung by state and local regulations. But while those factors helped lead one developer to pull the plug on its project and another to push back its schedule by a couple of years, that’s not to say there isn’t a path forward for some projects. In today’s RBN blog, we examine why Wolf Carbon Solutions’ targeted approach and a pipeline conversion by Tallgrass Energy could be the most likely CCS projects to reach operational status. 

We’ve spent a lot of time this year looking at the global move to decarbonize and explaining why there isn’t going to be a straight line leading directly to abundant carbon-free power and a net-zero world. That might be the way a lot of people would like to see it go, but that’s not the reality we’re now facing. All sorts of obstacles have popped up, indicating that the energy industry’s trilemma of availability, reliability and affordability not only clash with each other on occasion, they can also conflict with economic and environmental priorities. Nowhere is that more evident than in the U.S., where small-scale battles over the clean-energy transition are playing out all over the map. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss highlights from our newly released Drill Down Report on the ways the nation’s clean-energy push is playing out at the state level. 

If it seems like the push for decarbonization has suddenly picked up the pace lately, Michigan provides proof. Home to the Big 3 automakers and for many the symbolic heart of U.S. manufacturing, its efforts to move away from fossil fuels have long been met with skepticism and resistance. But changing attitudes about climate change and renewable power — and full Democratic control of the state government for the first time in 40 years — have led to a swift about-face in the state’s energy policy. In today’s RBN blog, we examine Michigan’s plans to accelerate its transition away from coal-fired power and the long-term challenges that come with it. 

The push to decarbonize frequently focuses on the transportation sector, which is responsible for the largest share of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. That has led to increased blending of ethanol into gasoline and the development of several alternative fuels, most notably renewable diesel (RD) and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF). But as production of those two fuels accelerates, an often-overlooked byproduct of their creation is beginning to attract more attention: renewable naphtha. In today’s RBN blog, we explain the similarities and differences between traditional naphtha and renewable naphtha, look at how renewable naphtha is produced, and show how it can be used to help refiners, petrochemical companies and hydrogen producers meet their sustainability goals and reduce the carbon intensity (CI) of their products.

It’s been a rough few weeks for the offshore wind industry, highlighted by Ørsted’s decision to cancel two high-profile projects in the Northeast: Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2. The industry continues to be plagued by a host of problems around inflation, the supply chain and permitting, leading some developers to write-down losses and question whether their projects remain economically viable. But it hasn’t all been bad news, as other projects have been able to move forward and hit major milestones. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the recent cancellations, some key projects that have been approved or are advancing, and what we’ll be watching for over the next several months. 

Every state has its unique set of advantages and challenges, but very few face the number of contrasts that makes New York and its ambitious decarbonization goals so interesting. The Empire State ranks fourth in population (behind California, Texas and Florida) and is home to the biggest city in the country, yet most of the state would be considered rural. It has the nation's third-largest economy, but because its key industries — including financial and business services — are not energy-intensive, and many in the New York City area use mass transit, its per-capita energy use is lower than all but two states (Hawaii and Rhode Island). And while the state gets about 30% of its power from renewable sources (most of it large-scale hydropower), solar and wind generation are still very limited there. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how the state’s plans to ramp up renewable generation — which have long been plagued by problems with incentives, permitting and project cancellations — are running headlong into the difficulties of adding so many resources in a short period of time.  

When Navigator CO2 Ventures decided to pull the plug on its long-planned Heartland Greenway project, a vast network that would have captured carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from dozens of ethanol producers in the Midwest and Great Plains then piped them hundreds of miles for permanent sequestration, it was a significant setback for the Biden administration’s climate goals. More than that, it showed how large-scale carbon-capture projects face opposition from seemingly all sides and how the lack of a meaningful regulatory framework at the federal level only adds to the industry’s challenges. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the Heartland Greenway cancellation, what it says about the future of similar projects, and what regulatory changes might be needed at the federal level to make large-scale carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) a reality.