A Debate Rages Over the Putative Environmental Benefits of the ARCH2 ‘Hydrogen Hub’ in Appalachia

A Debate Rages Over the Putative Environmental Benefits of the ARCH2 ‘Hydrogen Hub’ in Appalachia

Explanatory Note from Alan Journet

While it is  certainly the case that combusting hydrogen to produce energy emits only water and is thus cleaner than using fossil fuels for this purpose, the Devil is in the way in which that Hydrogen is produced.  The Blue Hydrogen discussed in this report is manufactured from so-called natural gas (better terms methane pollution) so all the methane leakage (fugitive emissions) that results from the extraction, processing and transmission of that methane pollution to a Hydrogen Hub will still be released (and this is the main problem with methane since the leaked methane is 80 times worse (on a 20-year basis) than carbon dioxide as a global warming agent.
Furthermore, the effectiveness of Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technology is not, as discussed, demonstrated.  Since CCS only captures the immediate carbon dioxide released during a process, it fails to touch the fugitive emissions, the main cause for methane pollution being as bad or worse than coal or oil.
Currently, the only satisfactory method for undertaking the energy intensive process of extracting Hydrogen from water is via energy derived from renewable sources….which is not the method discussed here. 

John Hurdle, May 26, 2024, Inside Climate News.

Backers of a planned “hydrogen hub”’ in the Appalachian region have issued a document responding to criticism by environmentalists, saying that carbon capture and sequestration technology would mitigate greenhouse gas emissions from the project and that the hydrogen it produced would ultimately protect “environmental justice” communities from pollution currently emitted by heavy industry.

The project, which would produce, distribute and consume hydrogen in West Virginia, Ohio and western Pennsylvania, plans to make so-called blue hydrogen from natural gas by combining it with steam at a high temperature and pressure, a commonly used process called “reforming” that creates most of the world’s industrial hydrogen.

Instead of being released into the atmosphere, where it would warm the climate, the carbon dioxide produced by burning the natural gas would be pumped underground and permanently stored using carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), a process that critics say is unproven and expensive.

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