Hydrogen: Hype or a Glide Path to Decarbonizing Natural Gas – Part 2


We continue the analysis of hydrogen which began in Part 1. This time we cover the following topics:

  • The status of efforts to blend hydrogen in the U.S. grid,
  • What hydrogen blending means for decarbonizing natural gas,
  • Regional opportunities to increase hydrogen in the U.S. and to serve Fuel-Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEV), and
  • The Disconnect between hydrogen policy and green hydrogen production shortages

Based on our analysis, we think that hydrogen shows great promise based largely on efforts in  California to decarbonize the transportation sector by using hydrogen fueling stations for FCEVs. We also believe that Texas and the US Gulf coast could become a significant player in the hydrogen economy since most of the blue hydrogen production and hydrogen pipelines are located there. 

Hblending in natural gas transmission and distribution lines could reduce CO2e emissions between 29 percent and 40 percent in California if implemented. However, gas utilities in California and other states will require additional R&D on live natural gas systems to address pipeline integrity and safety as well as how blended Hwill affect the performance of end-users. Gas utilities in California are interested in defining interconnection and injections tariffs with the California PUC, however, all the gas utilities are hesitant to proceed absent real-time studies and/or regulatory approval.

Europe appears to be moving forward with Has countries such as Germany, the UK and France are pushing ahead with Hblending and an increased number of green Hprojects. However, these countries are focusing more on green Has a blending fuel than blue H2. Finally, countries and individual states should be cognizant that green His limited and may not be able to be produced in sufficient supply to blend in gas grids and for use by FCEV fueling stations in the early years of implementing such programs. California’s Hpolicy should be used as a model. The state's policy is both aspirational with respect to green hydrogen, but  pragmatic and does rely on blue hydrogen production at this time to continue to build out the H2 fueling station network.

If the risks to natural gas pipelines from Hblending are not acceptable or the number of green Hprojects do not materialize as planned, then countries and regulators may ultimately have no alternative than to rely on blue Hand/or expanding the existing Hpipeline network. If countries do have to rely on blue hydrogen, then existing hydrogen production plants should be required to install Carbon Capture, Use and Storage technology (CCUS) and use the existing 45Q IRS regulations in the U.S. to incent CCUS. Read the entire article that appears in the Climate and Energy Journal.