Energy transition

Tracking the Energy Transition: Air Creates and Stores Energy, and the USPS Goes Electric

A company plans to use compressed air to store energy underground in California. The US Postal Service makes a historic announcement. India and Brazil set their sights on green hydrogen, and ammonia cracking takes center stage in Germany.

A rendering shows Hydrostor’s planned compressed air storage project in California.
Source: Hydrostor.

California’s San Joaquin Valley is now the focus of a new 25-year, $775 million compressed-air energy storage project. The project will help provide renewable energy opportunities to The Golden State and others. The developer of the project plans to drill three shafts thousands of feet into the ground and send down miners to dig out a series of rows and columns. When the project is ready to go in 2028, the underground caverns will have a collective volume equivalent to two football fields about 100 yards high. At times when California reaches the amount of solar power it needs, Hydrostor will use the low-cost energy to push air into the caverns, which will store it for times when the energy is needed.

“If you want clean, renewable energy every hour of every day of every month of every year, you need long-duration energy storage,” said Julia Souder, executive director of the Long Duration Energy Storage Council, a trade group.

You’ve Got Electric Mail
The US Postal Service announced a historic investment to electrify its delivery fleet. The investment, valued at $9.6 billion, will electrify 75% of new purpose-built next-generation delivery vehicles. The switch is expected to be completed in 5 years. The plan also includes the commitment to change to 100% electric NGDVs starting in 2026.

CCS Enters the Great White North
Northern Alberta will soon be the site of a carbon capture and storage (CCS) hub as the Alberta government approved the Pathways Alliance’s proposal to develop the hub that will gather and store carbon emissions from 14 oil sands projects in the area by 2030. The CCS plan is expected to cost around $12.22 billion. The Canadian government unveiled a CCS investment tax credit last year; however, the oil industry is asking federal and provincial governments for further financial support. Upon approval of the announcement, Pathways will begin a detailed evaluation of its proposed storage hub in the Cold Lake region, which will help with field development plans to support the final application to the Alberta government.

Low-Carbon Iron
“Reduced iron” will soon make an appearance across Japan as Nippon Steel announces plans to use hydrogen to create low-carbon materials, including reduced iron.

“We will be involved in raw materials as our own business, instead of simply procuring raw materials (such as iron ore and coking coal),” said Nippon Steel President Eiji Hashimoto.

Reduced iron is produced by removing oxygen from the iron ore to make metallic iron without melting it. Currently, reduced iron is largely produced using natural gas, but steelmakers worldwide are trying to make reduced iron using hydrogen to help to achieve a CO2-free steelmaking process. Creation of the low-carbon materials come as steel production accounts for 7–9% of global carbon dioxide emissions.

India Sets Its SIGHT on Green Hydrogen
India recently announced an incentive plan known as Strategic Interventions for Green Hydrogen Transition (SIGHT) program to promote green hydrogen in their attempt to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. The SIGHT program, estimated to cost $2.11 billion, is designed to produce 5 mtpa of green hydrogen annually by 2030. The plan also calls for the development of an electolyzer with the capacity of 60–100 GW to help produce green hydrogen, as well as plans to bring down the production costs by $3.70/kg.

“Our aim is to establish India as a global hub of green hydrogen,” Minister of State Anurag Thakur said. “We will make efforts to get at least 10% of the global demand for green hydrogen (by 2030).”

… Brazil, too
Unigel, a Brazilian chemical maker, announced plans to invest $1.5 billion in a plant to produce green hydrogen. The plant, which will be in the city of Camaçari, is expected to near the first stage of its development by late 2023. Development of the plant on an industrial scale will be the first of its kind in the country.

Ammonia Cracking Takes Over Germany
ADNOC has announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding with Thyssenkrupp Uhde, a Germany-based subsidiary of Thyssenkrupp Group that specializes in chemical engineering. The partnership will explore the path toward creating new markets for hydrogen and promoting global clean energy value chains. The agreement’s focus will be developing projects for large-scale ammonia cracking, a process used to extract hydrogen from ammonia after transportation. The companies will also work together to develop cracking plants for the process that will use Thyssenkrupp technology. Additionally, they will explore opportunities in the clean energy value chain for the supply and shipment of low-carbon or green ammonia from the UAE to large-scale ammonia cracking facilities globally.

Wind Power Blows Into the UK
Seven million homes in the UK will be powered by green electricity as soon as 2030, as a result of Britain’s Crown Estate leasing six offshore wind projects. The sites will add 8 GW toward the UK’s goal of reaching 50 GW of offshore wind energy. Additionally, King Charles announced his desire for profits from the new wind projects, an estimated $1.1 billion, to go to the wider public good instead of the royal family.

Iraq Targets Flaring
Iraq aims to eliminate gas flaring within 4 years, state news agency INA recently reported, citing the country’s oil minister Hayan Abdel-Ghani. Iraq continues to flare some of the gas extracted alongside crude oil because it lacks the facilities to process it into fuel for local consumption or exports.

The Sun Shines Bright on Zimbabwe’s New Project
Frequent issues at Zimbabwe’s main hydropower plant in Kariba and the country’s aging coal plants will soon be a thing of the past with the announcement of an incentive program, valued at $1 billion. The incentive aims to accelerate 1,000 MW of privately owned solar energy projects as the country strives toward generating 1,100 MW from renewable sources by 2025. Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube said the guarantees would cover 27 solar power projects with sizes ranging from 5 to 100 MW and a cumulative capacity of 998 MW at a cost of $1 billion.

US/UAE Teamwork
The US and the UAE recently announced that $20 billion of their $100 billion clean-energy partnership will fund 15 GW of new renewable energy projects before 2035.