In order to turn the Northwest into a hub for green hydrogen energy, Oregon and Washington have teamed together to compete for billions of dollars in government funding.
Hydrogen is an element found naturally in the environment. Large vessels and industrial operations that are difficult to electrify can be fueled by it. Although the area now generates some hydrogen, very little of it is regarded as “green.” It is environmentally friendly since a large portion of it is a byproduct of the natural gas sector rather than being made from water.
Electricity generated from renewable energy sources is also environmentally friendly. But according to Janine Benner, director of the Oregon Department of Energy, the aim of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% over the next three decades cannot be achieved only by switching to electricity provided by solar, wind, wave, and other renewable energy sources.
It is possible to decarbonize the grid to an extent of 80 to 90%, she claimed. “You need choices that incorporate hydrogen if you want to attain that last 10 or 15 or 20%.”
This summer, Oregon joined the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Association, a public-private partnership, under Benner’s direction. It comprises, among others, the director of the Washington Department of Commerce, the chief operating officer of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, the top global hydrogen strategist at Amazon, a representative from BP America’s government affairs department, three labor unions, and the Sierra Club.
They are developing a strategy to turn the area into a center of green hydrogen production, delivery, and consumption that they will present to the U.S. Department of Energy. By doing this, the organization aims to get a share of the $8 billion allocated by the federal Infrastructure Investment. Jobs Act to increase hydrogen production on a national scale.
Later this year, the government plans to choose at least four “hydrogen centers” to receive funds over the next four years. While scientists, large energy firms, and environmentalists concur that hydrogen will play a part in bringing the world’s economies as quickly as possible to zero emissions, they disagree on the size of that involvement.
Environmentalists are also concerned that the hydrogen generated in the area won’t all be environmentally friendly and that it would extend the life of the natural gas sector, a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Why Was Hydrogen Chosen for Use?
There are currently many industrial applications for hydrogen. It is used to refine oil into gasoline, produce fertilizer from ammonia, and manufacture many processed foods. Vegetable oils are converted from a liquid to a solid by the addition of hydrogen. We refer to these as hydrogenated oils.
Hydrogen is a fuel that may be used to power big ships, as well as trains and buses. For fifty years, NASA has utilized it to propel rockets. In the future, it may potentially be used to refuel aircraft.
Energy experts predict that it will play a crucial role in supplying all of our future energy needs while emitting no greenhouse gases.
In addition to lasting twice as long as gasoline, hydrogen power is also lighter than a lithium battery and takes up half the area. Hydrogen fuel cells don’t need to be charged over an extended period of time and can endure the extreme cold that might drain an electric battery of power.
What is Green Hydrogen?
When electricity from a renewable energy source, such as the sun or wind, is sent through water, a process occurs that separates the hydrogen atom from the oxygen atom in the water, producing green hydrogen. To be used as fuel, the hydrogen is captured and stored. According to Michelle Detwiler, executive director of the Portland-based Renewable Hydrogen Alliance, a nonprofit trade group, the procedure, known as electrolysis, has been around for more than 200 years.
This kind of production might make it a carbon-neutral energy source for energy-intensive heavy transportation and industries. Hydrogen power produces water instead, of emitting any emissions. In a passenger fuel cell car, you typically get a cup of water that is fit for drinking for every mile of driving, according to Detwiler. It is absolutely safe when it falls onto the streets and enters the groundwater or a creek next to the road.
However, the technology is costly, and just a few locations in the United States are employing renewable energy-powered electricity to produce it.
Green hydrogen is a “chicken and egg” problem, according to Rebecca Smith, a hydrogen expert at the Oregon Department of Energy. Because no one is creating it, Smith said that there aren’t many individuals consuming it or generating it.
The billions in government money might transform that situation. We have the chance to quickly dispel the “chicken and egg” paradox, she stated.
Why Was The Northwest Region Chosen For Hydrogen Production?
You need a lot of water and inexpensive electricity from renewable energy sources to generate green hydrogen.
According to Benner, “that electricity alone can represent 40 to 60% of the cost of hydrogen.”
Since over 70% of Oregon’s power currently comes from renewable sources, Oregon and Washington are ideally positioned to become a center for green hydrogen.
Benner declared, “We truly have enormous amounts of wind and sun on the horizon.” “We are better at producing hydropower.”
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