Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Hydrogen: "Is This Big Oil’s Next Secret Weapon?"

We try to avoid question marks in the headline, Betteridge's law* and all.
But in addition it's a wishy-washy way to present an argument and almost duplicitous in a way somewhat similar to the way passive-agressive folks are duplicitous:
"But I didn't say 'It's the Next Secret Weapon'" for the former, "You misunderstood..." [whatever was being insinuated] for the latter.
(I need a thesaurus way, way, way bad)

That quibble aside, and meaning no disparagement of the source (it's a click-getter in a tough business) this is some solid reporting from OilPrice:
Reducing global carbon emissions to net zero “is the only way to go,” Shell’s chief executive Ben van Beurden said earlier this month, in yet another reminder from a top executive that Big Oil needs to produce and sell more energy with low carbon intensity.
Oil majors are investing in various alternative energy solutions in response to increased investor pressure to start thinking about reducing emissions instead of just growing profits.

Some supermajors are investing in EV charging networks, others in research and development of advanced lower-emissions technologies, and a few others are looking into hydrogen and its various possible uses as a clean fuel--not only for cars but also for heavy industries and home heating.  
Several major oil firms have included hydrogen and related research and applications in their alternative energy portfolios, but a meaningful large-scale hydrogen use with low or zero emissions in heavy industries—where emissions are the most and the hardest to cut—is years, if not decades, away.

This doesn’t discourage Equinor, Shell, and Total, for example, from looking into hydrogen as a cleaner energy source.
However, producing hydrogen from something other than fossil fuels—such as from sunlight or out of thin air—is currently cost prohibitive, and the majors are taking their research and pilot projects one step at a time.

Currently, hydrogen is already used on a large scale, but it is almost entirely produced from natural gas and coal, and its production is responsible for annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions equivalent to those of Indonesia and the United Kingdom combined, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said in a report last month.

“Harnessing this existing scale on the way to a clean energy future requires both the capture of CO2 from hydrogen production from fossil fuels and greater supplies of hydrogen from clean electricity,” the IEA said.

Commenting on hydrogen’s potential, Steinar Eikaas, Vice President Low Carbon Solutions at Equinor, told Houston Chronicle’s James Osborne:

“We don’t need hydrogen cars because electric cars are so superior.”
“Where we need it is heavy sectors. With small adjustments gas powered plants can burn hydrogen,” Eikaas said.
Equinor admits that hydrogen can be part of an energy transition future, but it would take supplemental technologies to make hydrogen production zero-emission.

Equinor said in its Energy Perspectives 2019 report that “The competitiveness of hydrogen as a fuel depends on the costs of producing and transporting it safely to consumers, and on costs of modifying boilers, engines etc., to accommodate the new fuel.”

“If hydrogen is to be part of an energy transition, fossil fuel-based production must be equipped with CCUS [carbon capture use and storage] or replaced by electrolysis based production utilising zero-carbon electricity,” according to the Norwegian major, which has several ambitious projects for hydrogen use.

Equinor is evaluating the possibility, together with partners, of converting a natural gas plant in the Netherlands into a hydrogen-powered plant, potentially reducing emissions by the equivalent of emissions of more than 2 million cars annually.

Equinor is also studying how 3.7 million homes and 40,000 businesses in northern England, currently heated by natural gas, could be converted to hydrogen and made emission-free by 2034.....

*Betteridge's law of headlines states that when you see a question posed in a headline that can be answered with a binary yes/no, go with "no".

Previously on hydrogen:
"A Major Existential Threat Is Arising For Natural Gas"
...One approach NH3 - ammonia - three hydrogens attached to a nitrogen:
Feb. 2019
Shipping: "UK Department of Transport recommends launch of ammonia / hydrogen powered vessels within 5-15 years"
Ammonia, it's what everyone is talking about.
And if your crowd isn't, you'll be the best-informed next-gen energy storage/transport-medium connoisseur at the Thursday afternoon salon!

Feb. 2019
Electricity: Here Come The Big Batteries
This is a very tricky time for end users weighing their options for long-lived energy storage infrastructure.
This article focuses on lithium ion batteries but there are a couple other battery technologies that work for large scale uses that don't work for vehicle applications, see links below.

Additionally the use of ammonia (for the hydrogen) as an energy storage medium is being persued by some very big players, Yara, Siemens, and the U.S. ARPA-E researchers to name just three.
And as Australia is finding out with their giant Tesla lithium battery, the things don't work so well in extreme heat. Ditto for extreme cold as the owners of electric vehicles found during the recent polar vortex experience.
Aug. 2018
This Could Be A Big Deal: Norway's Yara and the Australian Nitrogen Economy 

April 2014 
Blimp My Ride: Taking A Deep Dive Into Hydrogen (Charts, Graphs, Tables, More)
A visit to Sustainable Energy-without the Hot Air may be in order:
Ch 20 page 129

Hydrogen cars – blimp your ride

I think hydrogen is a hyped-up bandwagon. I’ll be delighted to be proved
wrong, but I don’t see how hydrogen is going to help us with our energy
problems. Hydrogen is not a miraculous source of energy; it’s just an en-
ergy carrier, like a rechargeable battery. And it is a rather inefficient energy
carrier, with a whole bunch of practical defects.
The “hydrogen economy” received support from Nature magazine in...
...Ch 20 page 130
He concludes:

Ch 20 page 131
...Here are some other problems with hydrogen. Hydrogen is a less convenient
energy storage medium than most liquid fuels, because of its bulk,
whether stored as a high pressure gas or as a liquid (which requires a
temperature of -253 °C). Even at a pressure of 700 bar (which requires a
hefty pressure vessel) its energy density (energy per unit volume) is 22%
of gasoline’s. The cryogenic tank of the BMW Hydrogen 7 weighs 120 kg
and stores 8 kg of hydrogen. Furthermore, hydrogen gradually leaks out
of any practical container.E If you park your hydrogen car at the railway
station with a full tank and come back a week later, you should expect to
find most of the hydrogen has gone.E
The he is David MacKay whom we visited yesterday.

Sadly Professor MacKay died far to young and the world is a lesser place for his passing.