ESG & Industry Updates

California Hydrogen Blending Study Shows Potential Obstacles

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jan 9, 2023 10:23:14 AM

Another avenue being looked into for decarbonization in the US is hydrogen blending. Hydrogen blending would use existing natural gas infrastructure for transport, which obviously makes it very appealing from an infrastructure & logistics standpoint as the majority would already be in place.

However, it isn’t clear exactly what impacts hydrogen might have on said infrastructure, and if it would behave similarly to pure natural gas, or we would see issues with pipeline degradation or operational risks like leaks. California is looking into the issue thoroughly.

The “Hydrogen Impacts Study” commissioned by the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) published its results on hydrogen blending impacts in July. The study found that:

  • Hydrogen blends of up to 5% in the natural gas stream are generally safe, but higher blends result in a greater chance of pipeline leaks and embrittlement of steel pipes.
  • Blends of above 5% would require modification of existing appliances to avoid malfunctions, and blends of more than 20% would raise the risk of plastic pipe leaks and subsequent ignition of gas outside the pipeline
  • Due to the lower energy content of hydrogen, more hydrogen-blended natural gas would need to be supplied to consumers to deliver the same amount of energy that they currently use with pure natural gas.

The study concluded that real world demonstrations will be necessary to determine safe levels, and ensure that risks like ignition are eliminated. Southern California Gas, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southwest Gas filed a joint application with CPUC to implement demonstration projects. The projects seek to use a phased up approach to determine safe levels and assess if hydrogen blending is a feasible next step towards decarbonization for California.

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy Magazine last month on Hydrogen Blended Natural Gas and the projects in California. If you would like to read more details on the blending and the pilot demonstration programs you can read that article in its entirety here: Study on 'Hydrogen Blending Impacts' Reveals Potential Obstacles

 

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Topics: renewable energy, hydrogen, decarbonization

National Grid to Pivot NY to Renewable Nat Gas, Green Hydrogen Power

Posted by Kelly Burke on Jul 7, 2022 3:30:00 PM

 

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National Grid has announced it plans to transition New York away from natural gas by 2050 via a combination of renewable natural gas and green hydrogen. New York City alone creates 70% of the State’s emissions, and almost half of those are a direct result of heating buildings and heating water with fossil fuels across its 1 million+ buildings.

National Grid’s strategy is that renewable natural gas and green hydrogen will be used in tandem with electrification projects and renewables like solar. The renewable natural gas and green hydrogen are necessary for reliability of the grid, at least with current technology in place.

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy magazine this month on the topic. You can read that in its entirety here: National Grid says it will pivot to renewable gas and green hydrogen.

Additionally, a quick overview on renewable natural gas & green hydrogen is below.

Renewable Natural Gas

Renewable natural gas, or biogas/biomethane is captured when methane is released from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, food waste, and livestock manure. Emissions from these sources are recurring and otherwise contribute to greenhouse gas emissions but with the renewable natural gas process, they are harnessed, purified, and used to provide gas for cooking, heat, etc, through pipelines in the same manner as conventional natural gas.

Renewable natural gas is chemically similar to conventional, and can run through the same pipeline systems which is a huge plus for infrastructure concerns. However, the infrastructure to purify the captured emissions is essentially nonexistent currently.

There is some concern among environmentalists that biomethane pushes could push agricultural operations to scale further in order to be more cost effective. However, it is worth pointing out that the emissions from the agricultural sector are so high currently, that it seems unlikely capturing spilloff would ultimately function as a detrimental factor in terms of the broader emissions picture.

Even with that particular criticism aside, the infrastructure upgrades and purification setups needed and their associated costs make it unlikely that renewable natural gas can serve as a comprehensive replacement on its own.

Green Hydrogen

Green hydrogen is the cleanest of the hydrogen options and produces zero carbon emissions. It’s produced by electrolysis. H20 is split into hydrogen and oxygen, so there is no waste and the environmental impact is zero. If the process is powered by renewable sources like wind or solar, it is considered a green fuel and has no environmental emissions cost.

The issue with green hydrogen is the infrastructure costs that would be associated with required upgrades to pipeline infrastructure. Currently, 26 pilot programs are running in the United States to test use in existing pipelines as well as production and storage methods.

So while green hydrogen may be the most promising of the solutions long term, it definitely is LONG term.

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Topics: New York, Biofuels, carbon emissions, renewable energy, hydrogen

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