Carbon Capture and Green Hydrogen are two of the big bets on reducing greenhouse gasses. Both have supporters but both have faults. This is on Green Hydrogen.

The Biden administration is making a big bet on “green” hydrogen, a fuel that can be used to power factories or ships without any greenhouse gas emissions. But as the administration prepares to issueguidance on how hydrogen producers can qualify for lucrative tax credits, provided through the Inflation Reduction Act, energy firms and environmentalists have waged an unprecedented lobbying campaign. Some of the world’s biggest energy firms want to make the credits available to companies that use fossil fuels to produce hydrogen. But environmentalists warn this would trigger a disastrous cycle in which fossil-fuel-fired power plants help firms produce dirty hydrogen that then causes dirty power plants to run more often – undercutting limits on carbon pollution proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency. The cycle would release hundreds of millions of metric tons of carbon emissions — all under the auspices of implementing President Biden’s signature climate policies. “There’s a doom loop,” said Craig Segall, vice president of policy at Evergreen Action, a climate advocacy group. “There’s a world in which our marquee climate law funds huge amounts of climate pollution that then undercuts the EPA climate rules.”


The industry has newer methods so all is well.

Newer methods of making green hydrogen rely on electrolyzers, or devices that use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The process requires an enormous amount of electricity. Under the climate law, the Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service have until Aug. 15 to issue guidance on how truly clean this electricity must be for hydrogen to qualify for the tax breaks.  Many industry groups have warned that overly strict rules would prevent the nascent hydrogen industry from getting off the ground. For instance, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Global Energy Institute wrote in a letter to Treasury that “stringent restrictions … could cripple investment in this burgeoning sector.” The administration should avoid “needlessly restricting the opportunity to build what we all agree we need in the end: a robust hydrogen economy,” Marty Durbin, president of the institute, said in an interview.

Environmentalists see three main concepts that are needed. Maybe all is not well.

In contrast, green groups are pushing for tight guardrails on what counts as “green” hydrogen under the climate law. Their demands are highly wonkish and technical. But they can be broken down into “three pillars,” said Eric Gimon, a policy adviser with Energy Innovation and the co-author of a recent report on the subject. Additionality requires hydrogen producers to draw power from new sources of clean electricity that are a direct result of the electrolyzer coming online.  Deliverability requires hydrogen producers to use local sources of clean electricity that are physically deliverable to the electrolyzer. Hourly matching requires hydrogen producers to match their hourly consumption of grid power with the hourly power generation from a new renewable facility. The third concept has proven the most contentious. Environmentalists want to phase in hourly matching by 2026 or 2027, while hydrogen developers want to stick with annual matching, a looser standard. “To some, this might all sound like accounting games,” Gimon said. “But this is real physics, and significant emissions hang in the balance.”

Can there be a compromise?

The American Clean Power Association, a trade group for renewable energy companies,recently released recommendations that attempted to forge a “compromise” between the demands of environmentalists and energy developers. Yet the group broke with environmentalists in saying hourly matching shouldn’t be phased in for most of the decade. NextEra Energy, a utility with plans to invest in hydrogen and an influential member of the trade group, praised the move.  “It strikes the right balance for the nascent sector,” Phil Musser, NextEra’s vice president and head of government affairs, said in a statement. But Rachel Fakhry, policy director for emerging technologies at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said it was “disappointing” to see the trade group take a “harmful position.” Fakhry warned that if Treasury issues looser guidelines, it would jeopardize the success of the EPA power plant rules — arguably Biden’s most significant climate regulations — before they’re even finalized. “The EPA rules are all about reducing emissions on the power grid,” she said. “So it would be truly outrageous if those rules end up increasing emissions on the grid. And that’s a real risk because hydrogen emissions could be very, very large if the Treasury guidelines are very weak.”

Use green to make green has a nice sound but is it reasonable? I know I don’t trust the industry as money is their goal. So what to do?

Hydrogen and a doom loop