Energy transition

Tracking the Energy Transition: Hydrogen Projects Advance, CCS Work Goes Global, Spain Tees Up Wind Projects, Amazon’s Renewables Charge

Hydrogen fuels, storage, and production projects are on the go, while CCS and wind projects receive significant international boosts from the likes of INPEX, Chevron, Equinor, and Eni and Amazon splashes cash for more than three dozen renewables projects.

Hydrogen projects in Canada, US, and the UK are heating up as technology applications mature and the demand for hydrogen-based fuels increases.

Hydrofuel Canada has completed an exclusive license agreement with Georgia Institute of Technology for its patent-pending MAPS system for high-yield, sustainable ammonia synthesis from air and water using a gas-phase electrochemical process. According to Hydrofuel, these technologies will produce green ammonia using $0.02/kWh electricity for as low as $220/ton, whereas fossil-fuel-derived ammonia is currently selling at $1,500 to $2,000/ton.

The MAPS technology uses hollow hybrid plasmonic nanocages to create an electrocatalyst for ammonia synthesis from nitrogen and electrolyzed water under ambient temperatures and pressure in the gas-and-liquid-phase system.

The company added that green hydrogen can be separated out from the ammonia to sell at about $1.50/kg, compared to traditional green hydrogen which sells for up to $15/kg. Even at $0.08/kWh, the production of green ammonia and releasing hydrogen from it will be lower cost than any hydrocarbon fuel.

Ammonia is an environmentally friendly fuel source because it is carbon free, contains 1.5 times more hydrogen than liquid hydrogen, and can reduce global greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions substantially by displacing fossil fuels.

McDermott unit CB&I will design and build two 500,000-gal double-wall liquid hydrogen spheres for Plug Power’s new green hydrogen production facility in Genesee County, New York. The facility, applying Plug Power’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer technology, is expected to produce 45 metric tons of green liquid hydrogen per day—making it the largest such facility in North America, according to a press release.

The turnkey engineering, procurement, and construction contract for the spheres also includes insulation, testing, and painting, with field erection taking place at Plug Power’s 30-acre site at the Western New York Science, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing Park.

The stainless-steel inner sphere, which holds the liquid hydrogen, will measure nearly 52 ft in diameter with an internal design pressure of 30 lb/in.2 and a design temperature of -423°F. The outer sphere, which acts as an insulation container, will be fabricated using carbon steel with a diameter of nearly 60 ft.

The project has passed final investment decision and is currently under construction.

Across the pond, Uniper and Shell have signed an agreement to produce blue hydrogen at Uniper’s Killingholme power station site in England. Hydrogen produced at the site in the East of England will be used to decarbonize transport, power, and industry in the Humber region. The Humber Hub Blue Project includes a blue hydrogen production facility with capacity of approximately 720 MW, using gas reformation technology with carbon capture and storage (CCS).

The carbon captured through the process will be transported through a proposed Zero Carbon Humber onshore pipeline. The pipeline is part of the East Coast Cluster—one of the two CCS schemes that have received government support under the Cluster Sequencing Process.

The Humber project is eligible for Phase 2 of the government’s Cluster Sequencing Process. Phase 2 projects are expected to make final investment decisions from 2024 and be operational from 2027.

Shell and Uniper now will begin process design studies and site development activity.

The Killingholme facility is expected to see the capture of an estimated 1.6 mtpa of carbon through CCS. It will contribute to the government’s target of capturing 10 mtpa by 2030.

Gotta Catch It All
Chevron New Energies is launching a CCS project aimed at its operations in San Joaquin Valley, California.

The operator aims to reduce its carbon intensity by installing CO2 post-combustion capture equipment, capturing the CO2 and then safely storing it thousands of feet underground. The CCS initiative will begin at Chevron’s Kern River Eastridge cogeneration plant in Kern County, California.

Chevron has applied to obtain a Conditional Use Permit and will continue to work with regulators throughout the process.

In addition to the Eastridge cogeneration project, Chevron is currently evaluating and deploying multiple carbon-capture-technology demonstrations to mature more-efficient and cost-effective solutions, potentially enabling future projects, not only for itself, but for other industries.

Chevron is exploring additional opportunities to lower the carbon intensity of its San Joaquin Valley operations, including the blending of hydrogen with natural gas in combustion and the potential use of other lower-carbon technologies such as geothermal.

In the Far East, Inpex and JGC Holdings will collaborate with PTTEP to explore the development of a CCS project in Thailand. The pair signed a Memorandum of Understanding with PTTEP on the Thailand Carbon Capture and Storage Initiative to study the potential development of CCS solutions to help industries including the oil and gas sector, hard-to-abate industries, and power generation reduce their carbon dioxide emissions.

As part of its net-zero carbon plans, Inpex aims to create clean energy business opportunities centered on CCS in Thailand with a view to expand these opportunities to other parts of Asia.

The collaboration on the Thailand Carbon Capture and Storage Initiative is linked to the Asia Energy Transition Initiative, a plan unveiled by the government of Japan in 2021 that aims to help achieve sustainable economic growth and carbon neutrality in Asia. The collaboration may also lead to opportunities in other related businesses including low-carbon solutions and clean energy such as hydrogen and ammonia.

Across the water to the southeast, ExxonMobil is undertaking early front-end engineering design studies to determine the potential for CCS to reduce GHG emissions from multiple industries in the Gippsland Basin.

The South East Australia CCS (SEA CCS) hub would initially use existing infrastructure to store CO2 in the depleted Bream field off the coast of Gippsland, Victoria. The company is in discussions with local industries that may be interested in accessing the hub to reduce emissions from their operations.

The project is designed to capture up to 2 mtpa of CO2. If technical and business feasibility is confirmed, the hub could be operational by 2025.

Back in Asia, Chevron will join the Global Centre for Maritime Decarbonization (GCMD) — an independent, nonprofit organization established with support from the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore. Chevron aims to help support GCMD’s efforts to develop scalable lower-carbon technologies—including those that enable the use of ammonia as a maritime fuel—and the commercial means to enable their adoption.

Off Norway, Equinor scooped operatorships for the development of the CO2 storages Smeaheia in the North Sea and Polaris in the Barents Sea. The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy announced the award of CO2 licenses in April. Equinor called CCS crucial for providing CO2 solutions on a commercial basis to industrial customers such as steel, cement, and other heavy industries.

“We see that demand for CO2 storage is increasing in several countries, and we want to get started with developing new CO2 storages quickly, so that we can offer industrial solutions that can contribute to decarbonization in Europe,” said Irene Rummelhoff, executive vice president for marketing, midstream, and processing.

Equinor has submitted plans to develop the CO2 storage capacity in Smeaheia at 20 mtpa, which calls for a sharp increase in the capacity to store CO2 on a commercial basis on the Norwegian continental shelf. Northern Lights, the CO2 storage facility in the Longship project, has a planned injection capacity of 1.5 mtpa in Phase 1 available from 2024 with plans to develop the capacity from 5.0 to 6.0 mtpa from around 2026.

Through these two projects, Equinor aims to contribute to CO2 reductions equivalent to half of Norway's annual emissions. Equinor has ambitions to develop further storage licenses in the North Sea in the coming years with the aim of building a common, pipeline-based infrastructure that can contribute to substantial cost reductions for the CCS value chains.

CO2 storage Polaris lies about 100 km off the coast of Finnmark in the Barents Sea. The storage is a key part of the Barents Blue project which Equinor is developing in collaboration with Vår Energi and Horisont Energi. The project is developing an ammonia production facility at Markoppneset in Hammerfest that will reform natural gas from the Barents Sea to clean, blue ammonia using CCS. The first stage of the development includes capture, transport, and storage of 2 mtpa of CO2.

A Mighty Wind Off Spain
Plenitude, Eni's renewables unit, will invest in EnerOcean SL, taking an initial one-quarter ownership in the Spanish developer of the W2Power technology for floating wind power. The deal is structured as a long-term partnership focused on the deployment of the W2Power technology for floating wind power developments worldwide.

“Investing in innovative technological solutions is crucial for Plenitude to support Eni’s energy transition process and to reach the long-term targets of 15 GW renewable installed capacity by 2030,” said Stefano Goberti, chief executive of Plenitude.

With two wind turbines mounted on the frame of the same floater, which always face the prevailing wind, W2Power yields one of the highest power-to-weight ratios and the lowest cost of energy of any floating wind power technology, according to Eni. The solution integrates patented features and proprietary technology and has successfully completed testing at open sea at prototype level in Spanish waters, being the first multiturbine solution in the world to reach this level of maturity, said Eni.

Meanwhile, Equinor and Naturgy have entered an agreement to assess the opportunity of development and construction of a floating offshore wind project off Spain ahead of the country’s first offshore wind auction off the coast of the Canary Islands, expected in 2023. The Spanish government aims to transform its energy mix and plans to develop up to 3 GW offshore wind by 2030.

Naturgy will contribute its experience from onshore wind in Spain, and Equinor its proven capabilities in floating offshore wind technology and development.

Spain plays a key role in the supply chain for offshore wind in the rest of Europe. The floating substructure, tower, and mooring at Equinor’s Hywind Scotland floating wind farm were produced in Spain.

A Web Giant Expands Renewables Footprint
Online super-retailer Amazon is scaling up its renewable energy investments with 37 new renewable projects around the world, marking progress on its path to power 100% of its operations with renewable energy by 2025—5 years ahead of the original target of 2030. The projects are centered around wind and solar and increase the capacity of Amazon’s renewable energy portfolio by nearly 30%, from 12.2 to 15.7 GW, and bring the total number of renewable energy projects to 310 across 19 countries.

The 37 new projects are located across the US, Spain, France, Australia, Canada, India, Japan, and the UAE. They vary in project type and size, with three new wind farms, 26 new solar farms, and eight new rooftop solar installations at company buildings around the world. As a result of these projects, the company will have a total of 134 wind and solar farms and 176 rooftop solar projects.

Once operational, the 310 projects are expected to produce 42,000 GWh of renewable energy each year—enough electricity output to power 3.9 million US homes annually. The energy generated by these projects will also help avoid 17.3 mtpa of carbon emissions, the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 3.7 million cars in the US.

Amazon also continues to invest in renewable energy projects paired with energy storage. The new projects include a 300-MW solar project paired with 150 MW of battery storage in Arizona and a 150-MW solar project paired with 75 MW of battery storage in California. Combined, the two projects double Amazon’s total announced solar paired with energy storage from 220 MW to 445 MW.

Last year, Amazon invested in an 118-MW Oklahoma wind farm as well as 400 MW of solar projects in Ohio. This newest expansion includes 23 renewable projects in 13 US states, with the largest being a 500-MW wind farm in Texas.