Additionality Renewable Energy – It’s been a big year for hydrogen in transportation. The review of the European Union’s Renewable Energy Directive (RED III) has set ambitious sub-targets for hydrogen blending, and carmakers such as Toyota and Honda have continued to increase investments in hydrogen fuel cell and battery electric vehicles (FCEV ). Enthusiasm also entered the chambers of the US Congress just before Thanksgiving, when the House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act (BBB), which includes a new tax credit for hydrogen producers
The hydrogen allowance in the BBB is largely welcomed because the value of the tax credit is linked to the level of greenhouse gas (GHG) reductions achieved compared to the fossil hydrogen baseline. In this way, hydrogen produced from cleaner routes such as renewable energy electrolysis (“green hydrogen”) is favored over steam methane reforming (SMR) combined with carbon capture and storage (CCS; “blue hydrogen”). This latter route has questionable environmental benefits. Several reports this year paint a bleak picture of blue hydrogen and suggest it could be worse than previously thought due to the possibility of a methane leak. Hydrogen produced by electrolysis fed by average grid electricity and used in FCEVs could have a larger carbon footprint; Due to the high conversion efficiency of FCEVs, fuel produced from this route could be up to three times worse for the climate than alternative fossil fuels.
Most of the policy support under the BBB will go to hydrogen made from renewable energy sources and that is a good thing. The current supply of hydrogen in the BBB could also prevent a global increase in high-carbon fuel production if not for hunting: it has no additional requirements. For this reason, if the renewable electricity supply cannot keep up with the demand for renewable electricity in different sectors of the system, some of the electricity used to produce green hydrogen may be diverted from r current uses. Without adequate safeguards, the remaining demand can be met by increasing fossil electricity production.
Unfortunately, these guarantees have not yet been implemented in the BBB invoice. In its current form, green hydrogen producers can generate electricity from facilities that already receive the federal renewable electricity tax credit (PTC). Renewable energy producers have benefited from this incentive over the last decade to compete with other energy producers in the electricity market or to feed into national Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS). Therefore, although the PTC will be phased out on December 31 this year, the same renewable electricity generators that have received this credit will be eligible for the BBB deduction. If the BBB proposal leads to a sudden increase in demand for electricity from green hydrogen producers, the power sector will have to make up the difference somehow.
Policy makers can avoid using fossil fuels to fill the gap with an additional requirement. This will require that the electricity used to make electrolysis is renewable and additive (ie not diverted from current uses in the energy sector). Additional requirements include measures such as power purchase agreements (PPAs) between the electricity supplier and the hydrogen producer excluding electricity that counts towards other regulatory targets or incentives for scaling.
Failure to establish clear additional requirements in the BBB can lead to unintended greenhouse gas emissions. We calculate a quick “return envelope” to estimate the severity of these effects.
For this infographic, we track the White House’s estimated demand for the hydrogen economy in 2030 from a strategy report released this fall. We combine the estimated hub demand and the average production factor for hydrogen electrolysis from the literature to determine the total electricity in TWh (TWh) required for this level of hydrogen production. We find that more than 160 TWh (10
) of electricity to meet the 2030 hydrogen demand if only electrolysis is used. If this amount of electricity is diverted from the grid and is not obtained from specialist suppliers, and demand does not decrease in other sectors, new electrical capacity will have to be built to replace it.
There is a national commitment to decarbonise the electricity sector by 2035, but making projections based on current conditions is not entirely optimistic. The Goldman School at the University of California, Berkeley has estimated the estimated values of new power generation capacity in 2030. In a “no new policy” or business as usual (BAU) scenario, approximately 14% of the new capacity and 26% of the new capacity is being acquired. The energy produced will be produced from natural gas, and the rest will come from renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydrology and batteries. This means that if there is no additional demand for hydrogen in the future, around 26% of the converted electricity will be replaced by new natural gas installations. As shown on the left side of the figure below, this is equivalent to bringing 14 new combined cycle plants online by 2030 and represents a 3% increase on existing natural gas capacity.
Figure 1. New additions of hydrogen electrolysis capacity in 2030 under BAU (left side) and 100% renewable (right side) policy scenarios.
Alternatively, if ambitious decarbonisation plans ensure that hydrogen is obtained entirely from renewable sources, the additional demand will lead to the creation of many solar and wind energy installations (right side of the figure). Using UC Berkeley’s new capacity forecast under the clean electricity scenario, nearly half of electricity demand in 2030 will come from wind power and the rest from solar installations. This will require the construction of more than 16,000 additional commercial-scale wind turbines and nearly 7,000 large-scale solar installations. This equates to almost three times the number of solar installations currently in use and a 25% increase in the number of wind turbines. Land is also needed for the new capacity. Using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s solar land use estimates, we estimate that more than 1,000 square kilometers of land will be converted to solar panels to support this level of electricity demand.
It is true that ambitious policies have been put in place to decarbonise the electricity and transport sectors to achieve this – rapidly increasing the capacity to produce renewable energy. But generating enough electricity to meet demand from additional sectors will require further investment, building and deploying truly low carbon energy over the next decade. Incorporating savings to ensure that this new electricity is renewable and additional is essential.
Having recently been recognized as a ‘mainstream’ energy source, renewable energy is fast becoming one of the preferred sources. A strong combination of favorable trends and demand trends, evident in many developed and developing countries globally, helps solar and wind power to compete on an equal basis with traditional sources and win.
The first factor is that renewable energy delivers price and performance on the grid and at the outlet. Second, solar and wind power can help balance the grid cost-effectively. Third, new technologies increase the competitive advantage of wind and solar energy.
Consumer demand for energy was largely united around three goals that the first three trends in renewable energy sources made possible to best achieve. With varying degrees of focus on each goal, consumers are looking for the most reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible sources of energy.
Among the most important of these users are cities that integrate renewable energy sources in their smart city plans, community energy projects that democratize access to the benefits of renewable energy sources on and off the grid, markets emerging drivers of the use of renewable energy sources. . on the way to development, and companies that are expanding their reach. Procurement of solar and wind energy.
These trends are likely to continue to be reinforced by two synergistic virtuous circles. Using new technologies will help reduce costs and improve integration. This will enable an increasing number of energy consumers to purchase their preferred energy source and accelerate national energy transitions around the world.
Long-standing barriers to greater use of renewable energy have been removed, thanks to three enabling factors: a rapid approach to grid parity, cost-effective and reliable grid integration, and technological innovation. Once considered too expensive to expand beyond niche markets, solar and wind energy can now outperform traditional sources in terms of price, while increasingly matching their performance. The idea that renewable energy represents many integration problems that need to be solved has been reversed: the integration of solar and wind energy is starting to help solve grid problems. Finally, renewables no longer wait for supporting technologies to mature, but take the latest technologies to get ahead of conventional sources.
The rapid spread of solar and wind power and their steeply decreasing cost curves have surprised even the most optimistic industry players and observers. Ahead of expectations and despite perception to the contrary, wind and solar power are becoming competitive with conventional generation technologies in major global markets, even without subsidies.
Wind and solar power have reached grid price parity and are close to matching conventional sources. In fact, the unsubsidized cost of energy (LCOE) of onshore wind and solar is at utility scale.
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