One of the biggest questions of the energy transition – should blue hydrogen produced using abated fossil fuels play a major role in decarbonisation – was front and centre again when an academic study slated its credentials as an environmentally benign option.
Claims by researchers at Cornell and Stanford universities that using blue H2 with carbon capture and storage is in some applications far worse than burning gas or even coal were seized on by those who see green hydrogen produced using renewable power as the only viable path to a carbon-free future.
The row had added poignancy in a week that saw the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) deliver its direst warning yet over the impact of the climate emergency, in what the head of the UN called a “code red for humanity”.
Although critics fear blue hydrogen – with the enthusiastic support of the fossil fuel industry – could dominate investments, the renewable hydrogen sector is gathering momentum of its own in some of the world’s key energy markets.
Developer Enterprize Energy, which is already active in Asia, this week revealed plans to develop multi-gigawatt offshore wind allied to green hydrogen off Brazil, home to some of the world’s strongest winds and a would-be exporter of renewable H2.
The green variety also got a boost in India, where the government confirmed plans to compel oil refiners and fertiliser plants to use minimum levels of renewable H2 in their processes, in the first step to creating a major industrial demand base for the fuel in one of the world’s most dynamic economies.
And whatever their plans in the blue corner, global oil giants are getting behind green too – BP this week tippedAustralia as an ideal location for massive developments in renewable H2.
The east coast is already buzzing, excitement about the Pacific is building – but America’s third offshore wind option so far looks less alluring to the industry if the response to an early call over interest over the Gulf of Mexico is anything to go by.
Recharge revealed exclusively this week how just a single developer commented during a request for interest period set by federal authorities to gauge enthusiasm for placing turbines off states such as Texas, Louisiana and Alabama, in a region where lower winds and hurricanes present extra challenges.
However, there’s no lack of enthusiasm elsewhere to help the Biden government meet its offshore wind goals.
Aker Offshore Wind wrote exclusively for Recharge this week on how the stars are aligning for massive floating development off California, while the Atlantic coast continued to show signs of a major supply chain flowering as US Wind gave more details of its plans for .
The week also brought a positive prognosis for America's first operating offshore wind farm, Block Island, where Orsted expects to complete repairs soon after stress issues were found in its turbines.
Some of the world’s biggest green players posted their latest financial results this week, showcasing the range of challenges facing the businesses leading the energy transition.
In the case of wind OEM giant Vestas they include cost inflation and Covid, which the company said had made operations “almost mission impossible” in some parts of Asia.
Fortunately, it will take more than these headwinds to blow the planet’s green champions off course.