The United States (US) is committed to decarbonising its power sector by 2035, reducing its carbon emissions by 50-52 per cent of the 2005 level and reaching net zero emissions by 2050. No small task for the world's second-largest emitter of greenhouse gases.
However, green hydrogen can be a key strategy to redefine the energy landscape. Let's quickly review the elements behind the energy transition in the US before we deep dive into hydrogen.
US power industry
Power sector emissions have been on a downward trend for more than a decade, with a 36 per cent decrease compared to 2007 levels. But how much CO2 does the U.S. power sector emit? In 2021, electric power-related carbon dioxide emissions in the US were estimated at 1,551 million metric tons.
Despite the record-breaking deployment of renewable sources in the past decade, fossil fuels still accounted for over 60 per cent of electricity generation in 2021, with natural gas taking the lead. Renewable capacity has grown exponentially this century, with wind and solar accounting for the largest share of capacity additions in 2021 (90 per cent).
Why is it so important to decarbonise the electricity sector?
The power sector accounts for roughly one-quarter of carbon dioxide emissions in the US, only behind transportation. Also, despite advancements in the development and scaling of alternative fuels and technologies, there is some consensus that electrification will be key in decarbonising the road transportation sector and the industrial sector.
In turn, electricity demand in the US is expected to grow 30 per cent by 2050, surpassing 5,000 terawatt-hours. As such, cleaning up the power sector will be a defining factor in US climate action.
Green hydrogen is a key to meeting net zero in the USA
In recent years, most of the investments dedicated to the energy transition have gone towards solar, wind, energy storage, and electric vehicles globally. However, Green hydrogen – hydrogen produced from renewable energy – has been more and more on the table of discussion as a key in the path to net zero.
Hydrogen as a fuel offers great potential to decarbonise various industries and hard-to-abate sectors, replacing fossil fuels in processes such as refining, iron, steel, chemicals, and transport.
Since the United States rejoined the Paris Agreement and launched Energy Earthshot – which aims to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per 1kg in 1 decade – the country has taken an 'all R&D community' approach to leading science and technology innovations. They aim to address technological challenges and cost hurdles and advance solutions around climate science.
In the United States, there are 30 green hydrogen projects slated for the next 5 years with a total value of $14bn. Mississippi, California, Louisiana, and Texas are the states spending the most on green hydrogen projects over the next 10 years.
5 Green Hydrogen projects starting in 2023
Uncover the 5 clean hydrogen plants in the construction stage, which will start operation by the end of this year.
The project is a green hydrogen plant starting operations in 2023 in Louisiana with a capacity of 15 tonnes per day to supply the fuel cell market. Plug Power Inc. and Olin Corporation launched a joint venture called Hidrogenii. Olin will produce hydrogen and provide operational support, while Plug Power will be responsible for marketing the hydrogen and providing logistical support.
The construction of the plant will create 215 jobs in 2023 and then be expected to create more than 25 permanent full-time jobs in Louisiana. This plant joins Plug’s growing national network of hydrogen plants in different regions, such as New York, Tennessee, Georgia, Texas and California.
By 2025, Plug expects to produce 500 tons/day of liquid green hydrogen, preventing 4.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in North America. By 2028, the company predicts to produce 1,000 tons/day of liquid green hydrogen.
2. Sauk Valley Green Hydrogen Plant
This is the first green hydrogen project operated by Invenergy in Illinois. The project will generate green hydrogen by utilising power from Invenergy's co-located solar plant and Ohmium International low-carbon electrolyser technology.
Starting operations in 2023, the plant will have a capacity of 52 tonnes per year and will be able to store 400kg of hydrogen on site. The facility will be equipped with Ohmium's PEM electrolyser, which produces 6kg of hydrogen per hour.
3. Kingsland Green Hydrogen Plant
This project is a green hydrogen facility in Camden County, Georgia, operated by Plug Power. The plant will produce 15 tonnes of hydrogen per day, which will be liquefied and stored before being loaded for transport. The project is expected to create over 200 construction jobs and start to operate by the end of 2023.
4. Casa Grande Green Hydrogen Plant
This green hydrogen plant in Casa Grande, Arizona, will be owned and operated by Air Products, producing 10 metric tons per day. The facility is expected to be on-stream in 2023, and its product will be sold to the hydrogen for mobility market in California and other locations.
The production process eliminates carbon by powering the entire facility with zero-carbon renewable power. In addition, the plant will use two ThyssenKrupp Nucera electrolysers to produce gaseous hydrogen, which will be converted to liquid hydrogen using Air Products’ proprietary technology. The site will also include a terminal for distributing product to customer locations.
5. Donaldsonville Green Hydrogen Project
This project is constructing a 20MW alkaline water electrolysis plant to produce green hydrogen at the Company’s Donaldsonville, Louisiana, manufacturing complex. The plant will be integrated into existing ammonia synthesis loops and produce 20,000 tonnes of green ammonia per year.
Construction and installation of the project, which will be managed by CF Industries, is expected to finish in 2023, and once completed, it will be the largest of its kind in North America once completed.
CF Industries will allocate renewable energy purchased across its network from available grid-connected sources to match 100% of the electricity the electrolyser needs to separate water into carbon-free hydrogen and oxygen. The project is released in partnership with ThyssenKrupp.
Challenges in North America’s Hydrogen Economy
In the race toward leading the global hydrogen economy, North America has the potential to be at the forefront, with the market expecting to generate $140 billion+ per annum by 2030. There were 33 operational Green Hydrogen facilities across the North American region as of 2022, and the current green hydrogen capacity in the region is 691 thousand tons per annum (MTPA).
Despite the significant potential to decarbonise energy consumption, challenges surrounding production costs, infrastructure, incentivising demand, storage and transportation also hinder the hydrogen future. One of the biggest drivers of cost reduction is to scale up hydrogen production.
A combination of cost reductions in electricity and electrolysers, shared with increased efficiency and operating lifetime, is the key way to deliver a reduction in the cost of blue (produced from fossil fuel with additional technologies for carbon capture) and green hydrogen projects. This will unlock structural changes from pilot to commercial scale ventures in time to meet net zero targets.
Actually, many companies are already investing in extensive innovation and technological breakthroughs to unlock the huge potential of North America’s hydrogen economy. Businesses from diverse segments must prepare to transform their operations to be carbon neutral, and green hydrogen will be a strategic ally.
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How can Airswift help companies build a talent pipeline to reach net zero in the USA?
Airswift is committed to supporting the energy transition by investing and training a team focused on green skills. With more than 40 years of experience, our dedicated teams support clients throughout the entire project lifecycle and connect the right talent to the most significant energy projects across more than 60 regional offices around the world.
We help companies develop a robust workforce plan to identify, attract, and retain the best green tech talent with our strong database of 1.5 million STEM professionals. This means our clients can tap into the best available local talent pools where their operations are.
After establishing Airswift as the best staffing agency in Houston, we have since expanded our American footprint. Today, we support strategic clients and projects from our offices in Houston, Denver, Midland and Anchorage.
If you are a professional looking for your next role or a hiring manager seeking new workers for your company, get in touch!
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