As the U.S. Department of Energy evaluates applications from companies vying for the $7 billion in regional hydrogen hub funding available, industry players are moving forward with other hydrogen projects.

This week, California Resources Corp. said its Carbon TerraVault Holdings will work with Blue ammonia and hydrogen producer Grannus LLC on a large project in northern California.

PG&E Corp. has also announced a partnership with Energy Vault Holdings Inc. to build a green hydrogen energy storage system in California.

Many energy experts have high expectations for the clean energy source’s ability to help lower emissions and slow global warming. Activity is expected to continue ramping up thanks to government incentives in the U.S. Other nations—including India, where a $2 billion green hydrogen incentive plan was approved—are making moves, too.

Here’s a look at some of this week’s renewable energy news.


California Resources, Grannus Partner on Blue Hydrogen, Ammonia Project

Blue ammonia and hydrogen producer Grannus LLC has partnered with California Resources Corp.’s (CRC) Carbon TerraVault (CTV) Holdings for carbon sequestration as part of a project that could become the largest of its kind in California.

“California’s first blue ammonia fertilizer production facility is expected to further reduce the carbon intensity of California’s agricultural sector while delivering environmentally conscious food to every American’s doorstep,” Grannus CEO Matthew Cox said.

Targeting the agriculture, mobility and marine fuel markets, the Grannus Blue Ammonia and Hydrogen Project aims to produce 150,000 metric tons (mt) of blue ammonia and 10,000 mt of blue hydrogen annually, according to a Jan. 4 news release from CRC.

About 370,000 mt per year of associated CO2 will be permanently sequestered at CTV III in Northern California. The project will be CTV’s first permanent carbon storage project in northern California, CRC said in the release announcing the agreement.

“Our partnership with Grannus begins a new chapter of carbon storage in Northern California and also positions Grannus as one of the leading clean-tech companies in the state by introducing a blue ammonia facility in San Joaquin County with permanent CO2 storage through Carbon TerraVault,” CRC CEO Mac McFarland said.

Hydrogen and carbon sequestration are expected to play key roles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With net-zero emissions targets set, many energy companies have stepped up clean energy efforts by pursuing projects focused on cleaner energy sources.

Grannus’ “virtually emissions-free” facility will use a patented process to produce blue hydrogen. The blue hydrogen, as explained in the news release, is combined with nitrogen to produce ammonia for use in nitrogen-based fertilizers. The company has entered a master ammonia sales agreement with CALAMCO, a California-based cooperative and Grannus investor, the company said.

Dates for a final investment decision and the start of commercial operation are being refined, according to the release. Developers expect to begin commercial operations no later than year-end 2027.

India OKs $2 Billion Incentive Plan for Green Hydrogen Industry

India has approved an incentive plan of $2.11 billion to promote green hydrogen in a bid to cut emissions and become a major exporter in the field, the information minister said on Jan. 4.

The move is targeted to help India, one of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters, achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2070. Reuters reported last month about India’s plans for a green hydrogen incentive program.

The country aims for annual production of 5 million tonnes (MMmt) of green hydrogen by 2030, cutting about 50 MMmt of carbon emissions and saving one trillion rupees on fossil fuel imports, the minister, Anurag Thakur, told reporters.

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

Hydrogen, made by splitting water with an electrical process called electrolysis, can be used as a fuel. If the devices that do that, electrolyzers, are powered by renewable energy, the product is called green hydrogen.

India also plans to build electrolyzer capacity of 60 gigawatts (GW) to 100 GW to help produce green hydrogen, Thakur said.

Equinor, RWE to Collaborate on Renewable Energy Projects

Norway’s Equinor and Germany’s RWE signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Jan. 5 to develop a strategic energy partnership in Europe involving large-scale energy projects and boosted hydrogen production, the two companies announced in separate press releases. 

The MOU details multiple decarbonization projects to bolster Europe’s energy transition and to lessen Germany and Norway’s carbon footprint. 

As part of Germany’s transition away from coal, Equinor and RWE will jointly construct and own hydrogen-ready power plants run by natural gas. Their goal is to power them solely with hydrogen fuel once large-scale hydrogen production technology becomes available. These plants are based on technology meant to compensate for inconsistent electricity generated from renewables, according to RWE’s press release. 

Equinor also plans to build facilities in Norway with an initial low-carbon hydrogen capacity of 2 GW to produce low-carbon hydrogen from natural gas, said RWE. 

More than 95% of the CO₂ produced will be captured and permanently stored offshore Norway under the seabed, according to Equinor. 

The low-carbon hydrogen, also known as blue hydrogen, will be transported through a pipeline connecting the facilities in Norway to Germany, which RWE has agreed to purchase and use in hydrogen-ready gas plants, said RWE. 

The companies also plan to explore offshore wind energy opportunities in Norway and Germany, as well as other countries adjacent to the pipeline. Renewable, or green, hydrogen produced would eventually replace the pipeline’s low-carbon hydrogen.

PG&E, Energy Vault to Build Green Hydrogen Energy Storage System

PG&E Corp. said on Jan. 5 it will partner with Energy Vault Holdings Inc. to build a green hydrogen energy storage system in California, capable of powering about 2,000 customers for up to 48 hr during a planned outage.

Green hydrogen, produced using renewable energy, already has a big fan-base and is forecast to play a major role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Several energy companies are exploring opportunities in the storage space to manage continuous availability of renewable power.

Power utilities in the U.S. could triple their storage capacity in the coming three years, as wind and solar capacity expands, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

PG&E submitted the project contract for review and approval to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) on Dec. 30, with a request for the issuance of a final resolution approving the project by May 15.

The proposed energy storage system will be owned, operated and maintained by Energy Vault, providing dispatchable power to PG&E under a long-term tolling agreement.

Construction of the project is expected to begin in fourth-quarter 2023 with commercial operation expected by the end of second-quarter 2024.


Inpex Acquires Interest in Indonesia Geothermal Project

Inpex Corp. subsidiary Inpex Geothermal Ltd. has joined the Rajabasa geothermal project in Indonesia, the company said Jan. 4, acquiring 31.45% of the shares of project partner PT Supreme Energy.

With the acquisition, the company also joins ENGIE SA and Sumitomo Corp. as they aim to tap geothermal resources in the southeast part of Indonesia’s Sumatra island. So far, according to Inpex, the team has conducted exploration activities funded by PT.

“While the project is in the exploration stage, surface and geophysical surveys have indicated a certain potential for geothermal resources,” Inpex said in the release. “If sufficient geothermal resources are located through exploration activities to warrant the development of the Project, this is expected to contribute to the further expansion of INPEX’s geothermal business in Indonesia.”

Energy Transition in Motion (Week of Jan. 6, 2023)
(Source: Inpex)


MBL Bioenergy Gears Up For More RNG Projects

MBL Bioenergy has entered an agreement to develop additional renewable natural gas (RNG) projects in South Dakota, according to a Jan. 4 news release.

The company—a joint venture partnership between UGI Corp. subsidiary UGI Energy Services Inc., Sevana Bioenergy and a subsidiary of California Bioenergy—expects to generate bout about 525 million cubic feet (MMcf) of RNG annually from the two projects that will convert of daily manure waste to RNG, UGI said in the release. 

“This project sets a new standard for UGI in terms of scope and size and represents a key milestone in UGI’s investments in RNG projects,” UGI COO Robert F. Beard said.

UGI plans to invest about $150 million in the two dairy cluster RNG projects.

The Brookings project, set to generate about 300 MMcf of RNG annually, will be built at three farms near Estelline, South Dakota. The Lakeside project will be built at two farms near Summit, South Dakota, generating about 225 MMcf of RNG per year.

Both projects, which represent the second and third cluster projects for MBL Bioenergy, are scheduled for completion in 2024.

Energy Transition in Motion (Week of Jan. 6, 2023):
(Source: Business Wire)


Iberdola Selects Brazil for Its First Floating Solar Project

Spain-based Iberdrola will install its first photovoltaic solar-power plant at the Xaréu dam on the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha, the company said Jan. 5, working through its subsidiary, Neoenergia.

Featuring about 940 panels and an output of 639 kilowatts, the $2.1 million floating plant is expected to generate about 1,240 megawatt-hours (MWh) of energy per year. That will be enough to prevent more than 1,600 tonnes of CO2 per year from entering the atmosphere.

Plans are to begin construction by year-end.

The company is working with Companhia Pernambucana de Saneamento, operator of the island’s water and sewage distribution network, on the project. The project also has support from the Energy Efficiency Programme regulated by the Brazilian National Electric Energy Agency, Iberdrola said.


Greenland Wind Farm in Works For Floating Green Ammonia, Hydrogen Project

Energy Transition in Motion (Week of Jan. 6, 2023):
The project will be built at the Xaréu dam on the Brazilian island of Fernando de Noronha. (Source: Iberdrola)

Norway-based H2Carrier AS is teaming up with Greenland’s Anori A/S to develop a 1.5 GW commercial wind farm in Greenland for a green ammonia production and export project, the companies announced this week.

“At present, less than 1% of the global ammonia consumption globally is produced from renewable energy,” said Nicolai Fossar Fabritius, chairman of Anori and former director of a Danish wind turbine manufacturer Vestas. “We need to turn this around to come closer to 100% as soon as possible in order to reach the targets of the Paris agreement.”

Renewable energy produced at the wind farm will power H2Carrier’s P2XFloater production vessel for hydrogen and green ammonia, which will be stored in tanks onboard the vessel before being moved to smaller vessels for the global ammonia market, H2Carrier said.

The company plans to build, lease and operate a fleet of the floaters, believed to be the first of its kind launched on an industrial scale globally. The vessel is based on proven oil and gas FPSO technology “with control systems which optimize renewable power, electrolyzers and the Haber-Bosch-process for production of ammonia.”

“All industrial use of ammonia at present is associated with significant emissions of CO2,” said H2Carrier CEO Mårten Lunde. “By building on established and proven technologies with a strong safety track record from oil and gas we have developed zero carbon solutions for ammonia, which is a key ingredient in agriculture and the food industry.”

Hart Energy staff and Reuters contributed to this article.