Wyoming is quickly establishing itself as a leader in the development of hydrogen, a fuel that has the potential to almost remove natural gas’s carbon footprint — and keep Wyoming’s drilling rigs running in a low-emissions future.
Natural gas can produce two sorts of hydrogen: gray when the carbon is discharged into the atmosphere and blue when it is trapped and sequestered.
Almost all hydrogen produced in the United States now is classified as gray. As demand for coal, oil, and natural gas decreases, Wyoming’s energy sector has set its sights on blue hydrogen as a way to stay competitive.
However, according to a new study, blue hydrogen may be worse for the environment than previously assumed.
According to a peer-reviewed study conducted by Cornell and Stanford universities, blue hydrogen’s lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are only approximately 9-12 percent lower than gray hydrogen, more than 20 percent more than natural gas and coal, and 60 percent higher than diesel.
According to the report, “blue hydrogen is frequently regarded as having zero or minimal greenhouse gas emissions.” “However, this is not the case: not all CO2 emissions can be absorbed, and some CO2 is released during the creation of blue hydrogen.”
The authors concentrated on steam methane reforming, which is the most prevalent, but not the only, technique of creating hydrogen. They also based their predictions on the two commercial blue hydrogen facilities that are already operational, both of which collect carbon produced during hydrogen synthesis but not from another fuel burning, such as natural gas burnt for heat and high pressure.
The analysis assumed that natural gas would be utilized to power all operations and concluded that increasing natural gas burning would make carbon capture in other areas of the production process less effective.
The analysis indicated that using renewable energy in all stages of production outside of hydrogen generation would dramatically reduce emissions related to blue hydrogen, bringing it down to half the carbon footprint of natural gas.
That reduction did not satisfy the authors.
According to the report, “this best-case scenario for creating blue hydrogen, utilizing renewable electricity instead of natural gas to power the operations, implies that blue hydrogen has no role in a carbon-free future.” “Greenhouse gas emissions would remain high, and a significant amount of renewable electricity would be consumed, posing an opportunity cost.”