Lessons learned in the 2022 legislative session, and what comes next
The 2022 legislative session resulted in one, and only one, positive climate victory. The Community Energy Efficiency Development Block...
Abandoned "Clean" Hydrogen Station in Farmington - sitting unused for over 10 years
Hydrogen Hub Development legislation to permit public funding of a proposed federal Hydrogen Hub funding application has not yet been filed but is coming soon and will incentivize the development of a hydrogen production industry in New Mexico. While so called "green" hydrogen may have a place in reducing emissions, the bill as proposed provides incentives for hydrogen produced using enormous quantities of fracked gas, including both "blue" hydrogen, in which carbon emissions from production processes are sequestered using as yet unproven technology, and "grey" hydrogen, which can result in as much as 2 KG of carbon dioxide emitted per each KG of hydrogen produced.
Hydrogen production—more than 99.8 % of which is not green—is responsible for an enormous amount of greenhouse gas pollution; Oil and gas companies produce almost all of the United States’ hydrogen supply from gas. Globally, less than 1 percent of hydrogen is produced through electrolysis and less than 0.02% is green (i.e., powered by renewable electricity).
Blue hydrogen emissions are 20% greater than directly burning natural gas or coal for heat, and 60% greater than burning diesel oil for heat. Hydrogen production—more than 99.8 % of which is not green—is responsible for an enormous amount of greenhouse gas pollution, particularly due to the release of fugitive methane.
It is more efficient to directly create power with solar and wind than to convert that energy to hydrogen to use as an energy source. Green hydrogen should be limited to the rare situations in which renewable energy cannot be used directly or stored effectively. Moreover, green hydrogen production requires an enormous amount of fresh water and is not feasible for production in New Mexico.
So called "clean" hydrogen standards can avoid counting upstream methane emissions for natural gas sourced from a utility by limiting 'life cycle analysis' to emissions produced "at the site of production" for gas from a utility, or minimizing gas leak potential.
Subsidizing so called "clean" hydrogen without providing for actual enforcement of pollution limits will have dire results. NMED and EMNRD have thus far failed to accomplish any enforcement of new methane rules, and there is no evidence that enforcement efforts to protect the public from the oil and gas industry will increase.
Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is designed to strip out carbon dioxide from the exhaust gases of industrial processes. These include gas and coal-fired electricity generating plants, steel-making, and industries including the conversion of natural gas to hydrogen, so that the gas can then be re-classified as a clean fuel. The CO2 that is removed is converted into a liquid and pumped underground into geological formations that can be sealed for generations to prevent the carbon escaping back into the atmosphere.
Proponents of CCS believe these technologies will play an important role in meeting global energy and climate goals. And using CCS alongside hydrogen production, which is sometimes referred to as “blue hydrogen” or “fossil hydrogen,” has been pushed by the oil and gas industry as a potential solution to the energy transition.
One of the only facilities in the world that uses carbon capture and storage technology (CCS) to reduce the emissions of hydrogen production has been found to emit far more greenhouse gas emissions than it captures.
The Quest plant in Alberta, Canada, owned by oil giant Shell and designed to capture carbon emissions from oil sands operations and safely store them underground, has previously been touted as a “thriving example” of how CCS is working to significantly reduce carbon emissions.
However, an investigation by watchdog group Global Witness, published last week, showed that while 5 million tons of carbon dioxide had been prevented from escaping into the atmosphere at the plant since 2015, it also released 7.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gases over the same period.
The investigation noted that, per year, that’s the equivalent carbon footprint of 1.2 million gasoline cars....
CCS is a complex and expensive process, and many of the schemes proposed in the 1990s have been abandoned as too expensive or too technically difficult.
A 2021 study commissioned by the UK’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research titled A Review of the Role of Fossil FuelBased Carbon Capture and Storage in the Energy System found that the technology still faces many barriers, would only start to deliver too late, would have to be deployed on a massive scale at a scarcely credible rate and has a history of over-promising and under-delivering. At the time of the report there were only 26 CCS plants operating globally, capturing about 0.1 per cent of the annual global emissions from fossil fuels.
Ironically, 81 per cent of the carbon captured to date has been used to extract more oil from existing wells by pumping the captured carbon into the ground to force more oil out. This means that captured carbon is being used to extract oil that would otherwise have had to be left in the ground.
The report also makes clear that the technology has not lived up to expectations. Instead of capturing up to 95 per cent of the carbon from any industrial process, rates have been as low as 65 per cent when they begin and have only gradually improved.
Because of the clear failure of the technology to live up to expectations, New Mexico leaders and policy makers should direct their resources towards renewables, particularly solar and wind, because they have by contrast exceeded all targets in both cost and deployment and provide real hope of solving the carbon dioxide problem. These proven renewable technologies, plus battery and other storage ideas and a much-needed energy efficiency drive, will deliver carbon reductions far more quickly and cheaply
The report concludes: “It is the cumulative emissions from each year between now and 2030 that will determine whether we are to achieve the Paris 1.5°C goal. With carbon budgets increasingly constrained, the report shows that we cannot expect carbon capture and storage to make a meaningful contribution to 2030 climate targets. In this context, fossil fuel CCS is a distraction from the growth of renewable energy, storage and energy efficiency that will be critical to rapidly reducing emissions over the next decade.”
NO TIME LEFT FOR FALSE SOLUTIONS