Majors Look to Hydrogen to Surf Transition

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Hydrogen is a hot topic among European majors with strong energy transition plans. Most are color agnostic, supporting blue hydrogen made from gas with carbon capture and storage (CCS), as well as green hydrogen from water electrolysis and renewables. As governments eye a switch to hydrogen economies in pursuit of zero-carbon goals, industry, transport and power are seen as the main growth areas (WGI May20'20). So with their core oil and gas businesses set to shrink, who is doing what in hydrogen? BP BP is developing green and blue hydrogen projects in the EU, US, UK, China and Australia. It plans multiple blue projects in the UK, the latest a 1 gigawatt scheme at the Teesside industrial hub in northern England (WGI Jun.16'21). On the green side, it has teamed up with Denmark's Orsted to develop a 50 megawatt electrolyzer project at BP’s Lingen refinery in Germany, fed by offshore wind. BP Lightsource plans to use solar photovoltaic (PV) at green hydrogen export projects in Australia. BP boss Bernard Looney does not expect hydrogen to become a material part of the business before the 2030s. The company believes there will be a 50-50 split between blue and green hydrogen. It expects blue to become competitive with gray at the end of the decade in gas hub areas, and green to become competitive with blue by 2035 in renewables-heavy areas. Eni Most projects are in Europe and have a blue tinge, taking advantage of existing gas and infrastructure assets, although the Italian company last week expanded into Algeria and Egypt. Eni is active in the UK, planning blue hydrogen schemes at industrial hubs in northern England and North Wales. It is working with Uniper and other utilities on replacing gas with hydrogen in power stations. It wants to produce blue hydrogen for use in Italian biorefineries at Venice and Gela, and is developing the Ravenna area CCS project. The company is working with compatriot Enel to develop two pilot 10 MW electrolyzers to produce green hydrogen for use in Eni refineries around 2022-23. Equinor Equinor sees blue hydrogen as a way to keep “Norwegian gas valuable in a low-carbon future" and is a founding member of the Northern Lights CCS project in Norway. Most blue hydrogen projects are in markets with strong government support, including the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Equinor is involved in multiple industrial hub projects in the UK and is working on a scheme to replace gas with blue hydrogen in UK and Dutch power plants. Green projects include the 10 GW NortH2 offshore wind-fed project in the Netherlands. Equinor is working with steelmakers in the US and Germany to use blue and green hydrogen in the steel manufacturing process. Royal Dutch Shell Shell's blue and green hydrogen focus is Europe, particularly the Rotterdam port and industrial area, where it plans multiple electrolyzer and biorefinery projects (WGI Mar.24'21). It is also part of the massive NortH2 green hydrogen project. Shell has started up a 10 MW electrolyzer to produce green hydrogen at Germany's Rhineland refinery, one of five core refineries it intends to turn into energy and chemical plants by 2030 to produce more low-carbon fuels. Shell thinks green hydrogen will take years to outcompete blue hydrogen on cost, and blue hydrogen will help drive scale. Shell uses its own blue hydrogen process, a noncatalytic method it claims is 25% cheaper than conventional steam methane reforming on a levelized cost of energy basis. Repsol Repsol is targeting green and blue hydrogen projects in Spain, notably refineries producing synthetic and low-carbon transport fuels. It is part of a consortium planning a pilot project offshore Norway using excess wind to create green hydrogen in offshore electrolyzers. TotalEnergies Total says demand must be created to achieve cost reductions and bulk supply. In France, hydrogen projects include biorefineries, taxis and road haulage, and green hydrogen schemes using solar PV. In Russia, it intends to work with Novatek on LNG and hydrogen. Jay Eden, London

Hydrogen, Renewable Electricity
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