Biden Administration Announces Clean Hydrogen Goal to Reduce Global Warming Pollution by 10% by 2050 | CNN Politics

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Hydrogen tanks in a storage area at the Constellation Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in Scriba, New York on May 9.


The Biden administration on Monday announced a goal of producing 50 million tons of clean hydrogen fuel by 2050, a roadmap that, if successful, will reduce about 10 percent of global warming pollution by 2050. same date.

For the United States to transition to clean energy, it will take technologies beyond wind and solar to power airplanes, generate electricity, and power industry. And the Biden administration is increasingly looking to hydrogen to meet demand, an energy source that burns without polluting and can be derived from water. But it could also be generated by the fossil fuels it seeks to replace.

Clean hydrogen is the Swiss army knife of zero-carbon technologies, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm told reporters on Monday. If we get it right, it can do just about anything.

Granholm and President Joe Biden’s top climate adviser Ali Zaidi said they would reveal the locations of several new hydrogen hubs across the country in September. The hubs would serve as pilot projects for a reinvented, hydrogen-powered economy that Zaidi says will fundamentally change the way we build things in America.

We believe it could decarbonise some of our hardest-to-kill sectors, such as heavy industry and transportation, Granholm said. It could also generate clean, distributable electricity and provide options for long-life energy storage.

But hydrogen has its critics, namely those concerned about a potential over-reliance on hydrogen derived from fossil fuels such as methane gas, versus hydrogen that can be created from water.

If hydrogen is made from fossil fuels, all it does is keep the fossil fuel industry going, it doesn’t help with the climate, said Mark Jacobson, program director for atmosphere and energy at Stanford University and hydrogen expert.

An upcoming academic study of which Jacobson is the lead author finds that the United States would need about 14 million tons of hydrogen annually by 2050 to meet its decarbonization goals for the steel, agriculture and heavy transport, while the government figure would translate into about 2 million tonnes per year.

I think it’s woefully inadequate for what we need, Jacobson said.

And while there is intense work underway on the technology, it still takes years before it is fully commercially viable.

When you create a whole new industry, which is really what this clean hydrogen economy is going to be, you have to do everything everywhere and at once, Granholm said.

The electricity sector is already seeing a shift to renewable energies such as solar and wind, which are steadily replacing fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. But solar and wind power won’t be useful for larger, more polluting vehicles and industries where batteries aren’t an option.

This is where hydrogen has the greatest potential.

Airplanes, for example, require so much energy that any battery used to store solar or wind electricity would likely be too large and heavy. Hydrogen, on the other hand, can come in liquid form and is much lighter.

Hydrogen also has the potential to help decarbonise heavy industry, which can be difficult to fuel with wind and solar energy.

It is part of the Biden administration’s overall strategy to decarbonize the energy sector which holds the key to then decarbonizing transportation due to the rise of electric cars. Renewable energies such as wind and solar have an important role to play in carbon neutral energy, but since sunlight and wind are intermittent, there is a race to find an electricity source that can be easily activated. at the flick of a switch.

Hydrogen is one of the technologies that could help. The Environmental Protection Agency is considering it in its proposed rule to reduce emissions from power plants, suggesting that natural gas plants could co-fire with clean hydrogen.

Clean hydrogen is a tricky term because hydrogen can be derived from a variety of sources, some cleaner than others.

Green hydrogen, the cleanest form, comes from water electrolysis which drives an electric current through the water to separate molecules which can then be used as fuel. However, green hydrogen is only truly carbon neutral if the electricity it is created with comes from renewable sources.

Gray hydrogen is commonly used today and is derived from fossil fuels, including methane gas, and contributes to emissions that warm the planet.

Blue hydrogen is also derived from fossil fuels such as methane gas, but unlike gray hydrogen, its emissions are captured making it a potentially cleaner fuel source. But Jacobson said capturing hydrogen emissions can be expensive waste; blue hydrogen must capture both hydrogen and carbon dioxide emissions, and carbon capture does not also include methane emissions from upstream gas operations.

The gray and blue hydrogen has drawn concern from environmental groups for their ties to fossil fuels. And even green hydrogen has some detractors who fear that using wind and solar energy to fuel hydrogen isn’t the best use of renewable energy.

However, Biden administration officials have made it clear that they see the technology as one with enormous potential to reduce emissions and create new jobs.

Zaidi on Monday spoke of a factory in Minnesota that used to make diesel engines but now makes electrolyzers to produce hydrogen. And Granholm has estimated that clean hydrogen will create about 100,000 jobs by the end of the decade.

This is a huge opportunity, Granholm said.

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