Posts from Jason Lindquist

Plans to greatly expand the production of low-carbon energy and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be found just about everywhere, from national and international policy discussions to debates at the state and local levels. Given the potential for dramatic economic, social, and geopolitical impacts over the coming decades, it’s no surprise that top-down mandates for a transition to a more renewables-centric energy mix and away from fossil fuels can stir up concern over the pace, scale, and ultimate effectiveness of such a massive undertaking. In some places, like California, critical voices are largely drowned out. In other spots, apprehension may fester just below the surface. But in a state like Texas that identifies so closely with the energy industry, the conversation is right out in the open. In today’s RBN blog, we look at how that debate is playing out in Texas, where renewable energy is booming in a state known for fossil fuels. 

If you’re vying for billions in federal dollars, a predictable selection process with measurable criteria is probably what you’re hoping to see. And while there was much speculation about what projects would be ultimately picked for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) regional clean hydrogen hubs initiative, H2Hubs, the selections made October 13 included no curve balls and matched the agency’s previous guidance. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll look at the selections and how they fit into the DOE’s stated criteria. 

Second chances don’t always come around, but when they do, you’d do well to learn from your previous experiences and make the most of them. For the Petra Nova carbon-capture/enhanced-oil-recovery (EOR) project southwest of Houston, its previous three-year run largely confirmed the preconceived notions of critics as a highly touted project that fell short of expectations for a variety of economic and technical reasons. But it also enjoyed some significant successes, and now the facility has been given a second life, courtesy of a new owner and higher oil prices. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the long-awaited restart of the Petra Nova project, what its owner hopes to gain from it, and what it could mean for the carbon-capture industry.

The uncertainties around solar power are well understood. When the sun doesn’t shine as much as expected, power grids that rely heavily on solar must turn elsewhere to meet consumer demand. And while a shortfall in solar generation can be tricky to navigate, the difference between actual and forecast levels is typically only a few percentage points, and power grids are usually ready and able to make up any difference. But what happens when the daytime sun is obscured for hours at a time? Much of the U.S. is about to find out. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll preview the path of the October 14 solar eclipse, detail its expected impact on the generation of electricity, and describe what steps are being taken to keep power grids performing as usual.

U.S. oil, natural gas and NGL markets are more interconnected than ever — with each other and with global dynamics. The deep connections we see today have evolved in the 15 years since the start of the Shale Revolution, and in recognizing how the various segments have impacted one another, we can better explain how they are driving today’s markets. That was the focus of our Fall 2023 School of Energy and it’s the subject of today’s RBN blog, which (warning) is a blatant advertorial for School of Energy Encore, a newly available online version of our recent conference.

When you’re in competition for billions in federal dollars, you need more than just a sensible approach and a strong economic case. You need a real competitive advantage. That’s what Hy Stor Energy believes it has with its proposed Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub (MCHH). It sees off-the-grid renewable power and extensive salt-dome storage capabilities as the surest path to decarbonization for a myriad of industrial needs. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the overall strategy behind the MCHH, the plan to produce 100% green hydrogen, and how Hy Stor hopes to beat the competition and secure Department of Energy (DOE) funding for a regional hydrogen hub.

The U.S.’s effort to prioritize low-carbon energy entails some bumps and bruises along the way, an indication that the energy industry’s trilemma of availability, reliability and affordability can conflict with today’s economic realities and environmental priorities, even in a state like California with abundant financial and clean-energy resources and a commitment to decarbonization. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the state’s lofty goals to phase out fossil fuels, why it has been forced to put its transition away from natural gas and nuclear power on hold, and some of the biggest challenges ahead for the Golden State.

It’s no secret that the past several months have been challenging for the wind power industry, especially when it comes to offshore projects. Major developers have sought to renegotiate power-purchase agreements (PPAs) signed years ago, delayed work on some projects, and walked away from others, despite severe financial repercussions in some cases. On top of all that, only one of three offshore tracts available in the U.S.’s first Gulf of Mexico lease auction for wind power attracted any bids. It all amounts to a major setback in the Biden administration’s goal for the nation’s electricity to be 100% carbon-free by 2035. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the significant challenges being faced by wind power developers, what they mean for the projects currently under development, and some changes that could eventually help bring more of the renewable power online.

Considerable time and effort has been spent tracking the federal government’s plan to spend billions of dollars to create a number of regional hydrogen hubs. News about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) hub-selection process has been hard to come by, especially since the potential applicants weren’t publicly disclosed at the time of the agency’s informal cutdown in late 2022 and many potential developers, for competitive reasons, have elected to play their cards very close to the vest. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll publish the DOE’s full list of 33 encouraged proposals for the first time, examine some of the plans that were combined in an effort to produce a stronger joint application, and share a little about the concept papers that didn’t make the DOE’s informal cut.

Given all the recent attention, you’d think the prospects for carbon-capture project development are fantastic. In the U.S., last year’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) featured significant increases in the 45Q tax credit for carbon sequestration, improving the economics for a wide range of carbon-capture projects. On a global level, it seems clear that efforts to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and reach a net-zero world will continue for a long time to come. Nearly every plan to reach that target includes a significant reliance on carbon capture, with the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasting that 7,600 million metric tons per annum (MMtpa) of carbon dioxide (CO2) — that’s 7.6 gigatons per year — will need to be captured and sequestered by 2050. We are a long way from those levels, given that most estimates put global carbon-capture capacity at a little more than 40 MMtpa today, or less than 1% of what the EIA thinks we’ll need in less than 27 years. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the main factors holding back the wider commercialization of carbon-capture initiatives in the U.S.

The world consumes about 100 MMb/d of liquid fuels, which are critically important to every segment of the global economy and to nearly every aspect of our daily lives. The size and scope of this market means it’s impacted by all kinds of short-term forces — economic ups and downs, geopolitics, domestic developments and major weather events, just to name a few — some of which are difficult, if not impossible, to foresee. But while these events can sometimes come out of nowhere, there are some long-term forces on the horizon that will shape markets in the decades to come, even if the magnitude of these changes might be up for debate. One is a move to prioritize alternative fuel sources rather than crude oil, but a meaningful shift won’t happen as quickly as many forecasts would indicate — and that has big implications for liquid fuel demand and the outlook for U.S. refiners. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss these issues and other highlights from the recent webcast by RBN’s Refined Fuels Analytics (RFA) practice on their newly released update to the Future of Fuels report.

Clean hydrogen’s supporters often tout its growth potential, boosted in no small way by the billions of dollars in federal subsidies that will soon go toward supporting the buildout of an extensive series of regional hubs across the U.S. Clean hydrogen has its share of detractors, too, who question how much of a fixture it can become in the U.S. energy mix and wonder about its reliance on all those federal subsidies. But there’s one thing just about everyone seems to agree on — nobody likes the seemingly ubiquitous hydrogen color scheme, with arguments that it is too simplistic, has become too politicized, and puts the industry’s focus on the wrong things. In today’s RBN blog, we look at the limitations of the hydrogen color scheme, the risks of relying on it too extensively, and how the new tax credit for clean hydrogen puts the focus on carbon intensity (CI) instead.

When it comes to proposals to build large-scale energy projects, whether it’s a new electric transmission line, a mining complex, or an interstate oil or gas pipeline, the permitting process can be a delicate balancing act. Nearly everyone understands that appropriate social and environmental safeguards are essential. At the same time, the permitting process can’t be so cumbersome that it takes a decade or more to build that transmission line, complete that mine, or get a pipeline into operation. There’s a general understanding that the permitting process needs to be improved but, as the title of today’s blog implies, it’s a whole lot easier said than done. In today’s RBN blog, we preview our latest Drill Down Report on the major themes around permitting reform and examine the factors that could help — or hinder — further efforts.

Discussions about electric vehicles (EVs) often focus on the additional demands they will put on the power grid in future years, with concerns about the grid’s reliability and ability to meet peak demand often taking center stage. There’s no doubt that a widespread transition to EVs would pose real challenges, but utilities in California and elsewhere are also starting to think creatively about how to transform those challenges into an opportunity — although there are significant hurdles to clear along the way, including the needed buy-in from EV owners. In today’s RBN blog, we explain California’s so-called duck curve, show how certain EV solutions aim to address some of the power grid’s current problems, and look at some ways to get EV drivers to become active (and willing) participants in a vehicle-to-grid (V2G) initiative, which increasingly looks like an essential element in any long-term plan.

When it comes to large-scale energy and infrastructure projects, permitting can sometimes look like a game of Whack-a-Mole, where efforts to conclude the process are continually frustrated by issues that appear (and then sometimes reappear again and again), encompassing everything from environmental reviews and the vagaries of different federal agencies to legal challenges and public (and political) opposition. But if the difficulties in building a new pipeline, transmission line, or solar farm seem immense, they pale in comparison to what developers of mining projects can face. In today’s RBN blog, we look at why mining projects take so long to develop, the unique challenges of the permitting process, and some ways that it might be improved.