Opinion: With investment, Colorado can become a leading ‘green hydrogen’ energy company – Colorado Sun.
We have a system for transporting the renewable resource right under our feet.
Speaking before the UN General Assembly, President Biden warned that families around the world will be “choosing which child to feed and wondering if they will survive” this winter. Inflation, supply chain disruptions, the war in Ukraine and OPEC’s hostile energy policies pose a greater threat to humanity than at any time in generations.
With increasing pressure on all families, we must not lose focus on protracted struggles like climate change. We need better strategies to create a sustainable, affordable and reliable energy system. Colorado is already at the forefront of deploying cost-saving technologies and is uniquely poised to drive a “consumer-centric” clean energy revolution.
Over the past two decades, new technologies and better business practices have reduced the US energy sector’s greenhouse gas emissions. The growth of renewable power generation technologies, a 112 percent increase in natural gas production to replace coal, and energy efficiency have accounted for a 40 percent reduction in emissions from the power sector since 2005.
Since 1990, methane emissions from US gas utilities have fallen by 69% as utilities have streamlined their systems and invested in energy efficiency.
US gas distribution systems can and must play a bigger role in decarbonizing our energy sector. Innovative technologies may allow us to use our existing pipelines to provide affordable green hydrogen to homes in Colorado.
Green hydrogen, made from renewable electricity from sources such as solar power, is flexible and versatile. It allows energy to be stored, moved and used in multiple ways across multiple sectors; It can heat homes, heat the fuel industry, and power vehicles while replacing the use of more carbon-intensive fuels.
While many of these renewable technologies still have years to mature, gas distribution systems can provide green hydrogen to customers across the country. In fact, power utilities in North America and Europe can safely blend up to 5% hydrogen into existing distribution systems, reducing emissions in the building sector while preserving energy access and customer choice.
European companies are planning to build a new pipeline to transport green hydrogen from Spain’s solar belt to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the industrial hub of Europe.
Green hydrogen could be a game changer for Colorado. Colorado has a huge pipeline infrastructure and more than 300 days of sunshine a year. With the passage of the Federal Inflation Reduction Act, Colorado will be home to thousands of megawatts of new solar power.
Existing power lines do not have the capacity to deliver this energy, and upgrading the electrical transmission system will be costly and time-consuming, potentially losing green energy. In 2021 alone, prices on the seven US power grids have fallen below zero more than 200 million times due to power shortages.
The problem is expected to grow. By converting this energy into green hydrogen and delivering it through our existing pipeline system, Colorado could maximize its renewable energy resources without having to build costly new transmission lines or restricting customer choice.
In addition to providing a carbon-free heat source, hydrogen can power heavy truck and marine fleets and the fuel industry. For this reason, some countries, from Kenya, Egypt and Morocco to Australia, China and France, are driving hydrogen development as a key component of their respective decarbonization roadmaps.
Closer to home, Texas is positioning itself as a leader in green hydrogen development. With a grant from the US Department of Energy, the University of Texas and several corporate sponsors are developing a hydrogen “proto-hub” that will explore numerous hydrogen applications.
Government leaders have generated additional hydrogen investment, including a recent announcement by Plug Power, a fuel cell technology company that will not only create over 200 new jobs in Houston, but is also expanding its operations in Texas with a goal of producing 500 tons of hydrogen per day 2025
As President Biden reminds us, consumers around the world are in for a tough winter and possibly a tough few years. If Colorado is to continue leading a climate change revolution, it must do a better job of promoting innovative solutions like green hydrogen that can keep costs down.
The state already has readily available engineering expertise thanks to leadership of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, which has pioneered green hydrogen research and development in recent years. Colorado should lead the consumer-first revolution, not lag behind.
By leveraging our existing pipeline infrastructure to fuel industry, heat homes and businesses, and create long-term storage solutions, Colorado can be a leader in attracting investment in green hydrogen and create a clean fuel supply network that will enable sector-wide decarbonization and while also meeting the energy trilemma of affordability, accessibility and reliability.
Opinion: With investments, Colorado can be a leader in “green hydrogen” on November 23, 2022