Welcome new readers of RMP’s quarterly H2 infrastructure report. Each quarter we look back on the major stories related to hydrogen infrastructure advancements in the USA & Canada and chronicle them here. We also compare an AFDC database download at quarter end to the prior quarter’s database to see what has changed. The AFDC database is updated by the U.S. Dept. of Energy & can be found by clicking here. Canada does not have a centralized database of alternative fuel vehicle information so we collect Canadian data by hand in RMP’s own data tables. You’ll often see the acronym ‘HRS’ in this report which stands for Hydrogen Refueling Station. You can click on any picture within any RMP post and it will open a full screen photo gallery of all photos in the article. With that out of the way, let’s get on with the report.
A big story in 2018-Q4 is what happened just this past week: 3 new public HRS opened in California. The Citrus Heights HRS opened on 12/19/2018 under the Shell brand. And, the Palo Alto & Los Angeles Intl Airport upgraded HRS opened on 12/21/2018 under Air Liquide’s Blue Hydrogen brand. This is the first time that 3 stations opened in one week and it’s a precursor to a much busier year in 2019. Twenty-two new H2 refueling stations are set to open in 2019 which is more than any year before.
The overarching top story this past quarter, however, has got to be how Air Liquide is stepping up bigger & faster than anyone else in the USA’s hydrogen economy & elsewhere around the world too. Let’s look at some examples of how Air Liquide has stepped up commitments and more importantly their investments in the North American and global Hydrogen Economy. Both the new LAX & Palo Alto stations are operated by Continue reading USA & CANADA QUARTERLY H2 INFRASTRUCTURE UPDATE 2018-Q4→
This quarterly report looks back at all the H2 infrastructure activity from the previous three months. This issue of our report is focused on activity that occurred between 3/31/2018 and 6/30/2018. With things happening faster now than they have in the past, we may need to make this a monthly report in the near future. If you like keeping up to date on RMP’s H2 data observations, please subscribe to our blog by entering your email address in the WordPress subscribe widget. RMP uses the AFDC database as our main source to generate the information in this report. Several data updates on the Alternative Fuels Data Center database occurred this quarter, which is the 2nd straight quarter RMP has monitored higher frequency in data updates since we started following the AFDC database over six years ago. The AFDC database is also the main source of RMP’s Hydrogen Station Map. Areas of the database that have been stagnate for years, now show an increased frequency in updates. RMP notices every small change from quarter to quarter using special data analytics techniques developed over years of tracking environmental data & creating our environmental Google maps. You can help RMP improve our research & publications by making a tax-deductible donation (USA only) by clicking here.
Respectmyplanet.org has created a new quarterly report called the USA H2 Infrastructure Quarterly Update. This is our 2nd report since our inaugural report on 12/31/2017, but our first with the new ‘quarterly’ title. You can read our first H2 infrastructure update report published in December by clicking here. A quarterly frequency should be appropriate to report on H2 station construction & news in the USA, but things are certainly happening faster now than they have in the past. This report may need to become a monthly report in the near future if the pace continues to quicken.
The MDEQ publishes full year numbers for hydrocarbon production about 4 to 5 months lagging behind calendar date. That means these 2016 full year numbers are a little late, but better late than never. The good news is 2017 results will be ready in May of this year so full year results for 2017 will be just around the corner.
RMP will begin publishing regular updates of H2 infrastructure build out going on in the USA starting with this very post. RMP created a map several months ago to show all H2 stations in the USA, which you can see by clicking here. Currently, public H2 fueling stations have been predominantly located in California. And, while California continues to be the only state with significant infrastructure to support a fleet of vehicles, the activity there is picking up at a pace not seen over the past couple years. The eastern seaboard has also entered into the public H2 infrastructure game with multiple stations in the planning phase. Things are Continue reading December 2017 – USA Public H2 Fueling Station Update→
Proliferation of clean energy solutions like hydrogen infrastructure and fuel cell manufacturing are held back by myths that need to be busted. In this article RMP will use common sense, simple examples, and data to dispel an argument that hydrogen production, storage, and distribution is not economical because it’s less efficient than storing energy in a battery. Many people still peddle and cling to this red herring argument as if it makes sense. That stops today. Dr. Bossel’s keyhole view of mathematics, chemistry, and physics is used as sleight of hand to mislead readers from the big picture of how energy production, storage, and grid administration really works.
Mathematically speaking, storing electrical energy in a battery is very efficient and many times storing energy in a battery makes good common sense. Also, for the record, RMP is not anti-battery and believes that batteries are important to clean energy proliferation and RMP supports the manufacture and adoption of batteries as well as BEVs for many market segments. Yes, batteries are an important part of the Hydrogen Economy.
Dr. Ulf Bossel writes that making hydrogen from electricity is inefficient and therefore a “waste” of energy. Ironically, there are terawatt hours of electrical energy being wasted each year by not using that energy to make hydrogen. The number of kWh wasted each year is also forecast go up as more clean renewable energy comes onto our grid. In the UK alone, according to ITM’s CEO, Dr Graham Cooley, 1TWh of electricity was curtailed in the past year that could have provided enough hydrogen to fuel 3 million cars to travel 350 miles.
Dr. Bossel’s argument goes like this: given a quantity of energy, it is more efficient to store that same quantity of energy in a battery rather than to create and store that same energy as hydrogen. The diagram shown below is used widespread on the Internet as the foundation to support this red herring anti-hydrogen argument. There is much more, however, to the story of producing hydrogen from renewable energy than a lab experiment argument that blows out like a candle in the wind in the real world. RMP will explain in this post why Dr. Bossel’s graph and thesis statement is not credible for economic consideration. Larger quantities of energy than 100 kWh used for demonstration purposes must be considered and those quantities do not extrapolate to a high-voltage electricity grid with simple math. Geography, geopolitics, climate, socio-economics, storage capacities, human usage habits, and natural resources are but a few of several more considerations that cannot be excluded for any economic analysis if it is to be credible.
Let’s assume the math put forth in Dr. Bossel’s diagram is accurate for argument’s sake. It shows 100 kilowatt hours (kWh) generated from a renewable source will have 69 kWh of useful energy transferred to a battery and 23 kWh transferred to your tank after efficiency losses to make H2, compress H2, transport H2, and put that H2 into a fuel cell vehicle. When you couple the simple to follow mathematical diagram with Dr. Bossel’s credentials as a fuel cell consultant, certain media outlets will use his published papers to underpin their arguments to say hydrogen cannot be produced economically.
Bloggers like Fred Lambert who’s Editor in Chief for the Tesla fan site Electrek and Zachary Shahan who’s Director & Chief Editor for the Tesla fan site Clean Technica are more than happy to publish Dr. Bossel’s work to support their anti-hydrogen view points. Websites like Electrek and CleanTechnica attempt to use Dr. Bossell’s lab science as credible information that can be used to write energy and economics policy outside of laboratory parameters. Fred Lambert posted this article using Dr. Bossel’s diagram on the same very same day I started working on this post your reading now. Sites like Electrek & CleanTechnica are still currently publishing Dr. Bossel’s diagram to support their arguments against hydrogen fuel cells even though developments in the fuel cell industry are happening frequently each month and creating mountains of evidence refuting their false viewpoints. Dr. Bossel’s diagram has been propagated for years since he first published it along with his supporting paper “Does a Hydrogen Economy Make Sense” in 2006. Now eleven years later, in 2017, if any media outlet uses Dr. Bossel’s thesis to support economic science, they lose credibility.
Dr. Bossel has published the same work explaining his thesis against the Hydrogen Economy in several different years and places but in this particular publication served by the AFDC we get the following quote that disqualifies Dr. Bossel’s work in the very first paragraph:
As there are no environmental or energetic advantages in producing hydrogen from natural gas or other hydrocarbons, we do not consider this option, although hydrogen can be chemically synthesized at relative low cost
Why would you exclude the #1 method by which approx 90% of H2 is currently made in a paper that is supposed to explain how Hydrogen Economy doesn’t make economic sense? Natural gas is a major part of the fossil fuel ramp down in the Hydrogen Economy and he has already disqualified his paper from serious consideration by saying natural gas production of H2 has been excluded from his analysis. Natural gas considerations would absolutely need to be included in a paper about the Hydrogen Economy. This point is a big one because any economic analysis must include every aspect and angle possible. An economic paper cannot rely on a keyhole analysis that distracts from the bigger picture especially when the single biggest current source of H2 production is ignored. There are other examples of where this paper gets it wrong and how it in no way can be considered relevant to understanding how the economy or a high-voltage electricity grid works.
Dr. Bossel does make some valid points in his papers about using neutral hydrocarbons from “the biosphere” as he says and converting them to liquids like methanol. Using carbon neutral hydrocarbons to make liquids for economics of transport for longer distances (e.g. >200km) is smart. Carbon neutral synthetic hydrocarbons like methanol and other liquid H2 carriers like ammonia are necessary to society. Natural gas that is flared and vented in massive oil fields & landfills around the world as a waste gas or nuisance gas could be economically captured as useful methanol to create jobs and reduce GHGs. Read this post RMP published on October 27, 2015 in our Michigan Oil & Gas Monthly magazine as part of our leading coverage of Michigan’s hydrocarbon infrastructure and how RMP supports turning carbon neutral methane into methanol.
Unfortunately Dr. Bossel’s good mathematical points in the paper are overshadowed by his myopic and narrow view of physics while ignoring other important facets of how a complex economy works. Dr. Bossel does not make a good case because he excludes too many considerations for his paper to carry merit. Dr. Bossel’s papers have also lost relevancy given the rapid advances in renewable energy generation capacities that he lacked the foresight to see over approximately 11 years ago. The process to increase hydrogen production from H2O has decreased in costs via many new methods of electrolysis. More stories are being written about breakthroughs in electrolysis economics each new month since Dr. Bossel’s paper was written. One of the most promising electrolysis & fuel cell technologies is called high temperature reversible SOFC electrolysis.
Many things have changed since since Dr. Bossel published most of his work in 2005-2008. Dr. Bossel does not understand how our energy grid works and where waste is really occurring. Dr. Bossel’s thesis statement is that converting water to hydrogen is a wasteful use of electricity. Ironically, we often have more generating capacity than we can use or transmit and we are curtailing electricity generation that hydrogen production could easily soak up and save for cloudy and windless days. It’s actually wasteful to not create hydrogen because so much electricity is going unemployed. RMP will drive this point home throughout this rebuttal to Dr. Bossel’s thesis and we will look at data from various sources like CAISO to support this thesis argument. Economics is a complex subject and it’s imperative that all things are considered which is where Dr. Bossel’s arguments fail.
Like a pinhole aperture on a camera blocking nearly all light for a very specific photo shot to work, Dr. Bossel’s argument is ruined if the oculus is opened even the tiniest of bits. Any sound economic argument, however, must have the aperture cranked all the way open and stand up to broad sunlight scrutiny or it is has no credibility. Having laid down the thesis of why Dr. Bossel’s anti-hydrogen argument doesn’t work, let’s look at some real world examples.
Producing, compressing, and storing hydrogen might seem wasteful in a laboratory analysis, but the opposite is true in the real world. Let’s talk about electricity “curtailment”. Curtailment of carbon zero renewable electricity is when wind & solar electricity generation capacity exceeds society’s immediate needs and the grid operator does not allow that electricity onto the grid. Terawatt hours are being wasted each year on grids around the globe becauseofnot employing that capacity to store energy as hydrogen. This video from fully charged explains clearly how using excess electricity for making hydrogen is a smart economic solution for citizens in Scotland’s Orkney Islands. The Orkney Islands’ example shows a microcosm of how governance of a high voltage electric grid is helped by making hydrogen with surplus renewable electricity.
A major high-voltage electricity grid can be understood well by turning to the California ISO, hereafter CAISO. CAISO governs the California electricity grid and California is massive. If California was a country, it would have an economy as large as the economy of France. CAISO is led by an experienced Board of Governors and executive management team that set policies to ensure the reliable performance of the high-voltage electricity grid, open access to participants, and a transparent, competitive market for energy. The California ISO provides open and non-discriminatory access to the bulk of the state’s wholesale transmission grid, supported by a competitive energy market and comprehensive infrastructure planning efforts. CAISO publishes this short and straightforward document that in 4 short pages explains some fast facts about renewable energy and the “Duck Chart” that is stereotypical of any major high-voltage electricity grid. Within that document is a paragraph that refutes Dr. Bossel’s thesis. On the Over Supply Mitigation section on page 3 of the document, the first paragraph reads:
Oversupply is when all anticipated generation, including renewables, exceeds the real-time demand. The potential for this increases as more renewable energy is added to the grid but demand for electricity does not increase. This is a concern because if the market cannot automatically manage oversupply it can lead to overgeneration, which requires manual intervention of the market to maintain reliability. During oversupply times, wholesale prices can be very low and even go negative in which generators have to pay utilities to take the energy. But the market often remedies the oversupply situation and automatically works to restore the balance between supply and demand. In almost all cases, oversupply is a manageable condition but it is not a sustainable condition over time — and this drives the need for proactive policies and actions to avoid the situation.
RMP has been publishing a similar thesis point to CAISO’s oversupply mitigation policy for years. RMP is at its core an organization dedicated to protecting freshwater natural resources by making better use of things that are otherwise considered waste. All of that wasted electricity could be employed easily, economically, and with proven technology if it were used to convert water into hydrogen. The argument that making, compressing, and storing hydrogen is 3 times less efficient than putting that same electricity into a battery is a red herring argument plain and simple because of this. The costs to store electricity as hydrogen are between €10 & €20 euro per kilowatt hour vs approx €600 to €800 per kilowatt hour in lithium batteries (jump to 16:05 mark). There are tens of thousands of megawatt hours curtailed each month on California’s grid alone and RMP is predicting we will soon see over 100k megawatt hours curtailed in a single month in California. California has so much renewable energy generation capacity being added to the grid each year the 100k MWh threshold in a single month could even be surpassed as early as 2018. Furthermore, California is but a microcosm example of every other major high-voltage grid around the world. Now let’s back these arguments up with data that can be verified by anyone with an Internet connection.
CAISO has been keeping curtailment data records for years but has specifically started detailing curtailment increases in the past few years when renewable energy generation started rapidly integrating onto the California grid. The graph to the left depicts historical curtailment data of renewable generation since 2014 and can be accessed directly from this link. This graph demonstrates clearly the irony and opposite nature of Dr. Bossel’s incorrect thesis. If electricity is supposed to be wasted by making hydrogen, why then are we wasting so much electricity now? Dr. Bossel’s argument doesn’t make any sense, yet it has been used to mislead many people on media sites with low journalistic integrity. Junk science is being used to mislead people against clean and sustainable hydrogen production based on emotional and incorrect information. The truth is that electricity is being wasted by not making hydrogen. All of these wasted MWh of electricity could be turned into hydrogen to balance the grid and take pressure off of it. Furthermore, the number of curtailed MWh is trending upward which means even more wasted MWh are forecasted for the future if we don’t employ proven water to hydrogen electrolysis assets on our grids around the world. NEL hydrogen has been in the clean energy production business since 1927. NEL has been growing their business and creating jobs to bring sustainably produced hydrogen to market for 90 years. NEL’s contributions to a sustainable grid about are about to grow by exponential sales figures in the coming years. Here’s a great presentation of what NEL Hydrogen does that defies Dr. Bossel’s thesis. NEL is creating jobs with a solution that relieves pressure on aging grids with otherwise wasted or curtailed electricity generation from renewable sources.
Thankfully CAISO has been collecting and publishing hourly usage & curtailment data for years so we can use real world data to refute phony arguments about how producing hydrogen would waste electricity. Furthermore, even if you didn’t understand much about high-voltage electricity grids, you can clearly see a trend in the graph showing the number of MWh of renewable electricity curtailed going up each year as a result of more solar and wind generation capacity coming online each year. While Dr. Bossel’s thesis statement does not extrapolate from the laboratory out to the real world at all, RMP’s thesis statement that curtailed electricity MWh will continue to go up each year can be extrapolated to every grid around the world. This phenomenon will increase as we construct more and more clean renewable electricity generation each year like wind & solar. Hydrogen can be made cheaply and in unlimited quantities wherever there is generation capacity being curtailed or wasted. While batteries can play an important part of working together with fuel cells to help in ramping flexibility so grid operators like CAISO can react quickly to changes in electricity net demand, batteries on their own are not economical for large storage that can feed electricity into the grid for days, weeks, or months when renewable generation is weak and unreliable. This is especially true in major cities north of the 40th parallel that experience long cold winters when the skies are mostly overcast for months at a time.
Making hydrogen from otherwise wasted electricity generation capacity takes pressure off the grid with the growth of intermittent renewables. Fast charging like Tesla’s Super Charging sites, however, are virtually all on grid, which adds pressure to the grid while also relying on transmission lines that are vulnerable to our increasingly volatile weather. If transmission is disrupted by felled power lines, so too would grid charging transportation be disrupted until power is restored. Hydrogen allows us to balance the grid as well as go off the grid because H2 fueling stations provide off grid storage.
We need to see a plan of how an anti-hydrogen activist’s grid would work that can be peer reviewed. There was a long ramp to get into our current situation with base load coal plants still burning and belching SOx, NOx, COx, Hg, & PMs into our air and water around the clock. The ramp down of fossil fuels to a fossil free society must be explained in a manner that can be peer reviewed with substantive explanations. We need an explanation that includes numbers and support, not empty ad hominem attacks. How are we going to decommission coal plants and replace the base load power they supply without using fuel cells? In the Hydrogen Economy, the Hydrogen Council, which is meeting in Bonn Germany in this month, just published this “Hydrogen Scaling Up” document that explains initiatives in detail and is open for peer review. The United States Department of Energy has a whole section on their website called H2@Scale explaining how the Hydrogen Economy works and is also peer reviewable public information. With so many credible sources publishing peer reviewable plans for the Hydrogen Economy, where are the plans showing a sustainable economy without hydrogen or fuel cells?
2016 Aggregate electricity generation data from the EIA shows that of 4.08 trillion kWh produced in the USA, over 30% of that production (1.24 trillion kWh) came from coal generation. There has to be a ramp to get down from where we are today. We need to see a plan from those who think a switch gets magically flipped and those 1.24 kWh of base load power are replaced. The same replacement explanation is needed to explain how natural gas (@ 1.38 trillion kWh), and nuclear (@ 803 billion kWh) would be replaced. How do you replace this generation without fuel cells? Show us the plan. If you were to cut out fossil fuel generation overnight, the effects would be devastating with a recent case & point being the island of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. As of November 13, 2017, still half of Puerto Rico’s grid remains off line. People remain in desperate need of energy in order to have clean water and to generate power for their hospitals. In a Hydrogen Economy with a distributed grid, power outages would be less wide spread. Natural gas lines generally run underground and can feed SOFCs and PAFCs that are powerful enough to provide electricity and hot water for hospitals & hotels at upwards of 85% efficiency. Natural gas lines are much less likely to be taken out by natural disasters like above ground power lines. If you have a BEV in Puerto Rico, you might be part of 50% of the population that has not been able to charge it since September. People in Puerto Rico at the date of this publication are still desperate for gasoline to power their vehicles. These serious issues deserve serious consideration.
RMP compiled data from the EIA here to make a quick graph shown at the left to demonstrate the breakdown of our USA electricity generation. Total renewable generation makes up 16.1% of all generation of 4.08 trillion kWh while approximately 65% of that generation came from fossil fuels. Of the 16.1% generation from renewable sources, hydropower leads the way at 6.5%. Wind comes in second at 5.6% and solar registers at less than 1% !!! The notion that we switch to BEVs only and put solar panels on our roofs and we’re all done is not a credible position to have. Using BEVs and solar panels on our rooftops is a great idea and it’s admirable to pioneers who are looking to help make the world a better place; but those efforts do not scratch the surface of the challenges we face in order to eliminate fossil fuels from our economy. We have to be much more thoughtful than that. There is no flipping a switch to get there and we need to see a thoughtful white paper from someone other than Dr. Bossel, because his thesis is not credible nor is any media outlet that uses it to support economic viewpoints.
And that’s how the debunking of Dr. Bossel’s anti-hydrogen thesis ends. RMP does not mean to pick on Dr. Bossel in a personal way but must stand up to protect the truth when someone gets the science wrong and misleads the public. Dr. Bossel has made good contributions to the science of physics and makes good points about the energy density issues of methanol and ammonia versus those of compressed or liquefied H2. To those points, RMP finds common ground with Dr. Bossel. But, where economic science is concerned, Dr. Bossel’s thesis quickly falls apart and becomes not credible.
Dr. Bossel’s failure to include natural gas in his analysis shot his argument in the foot from the very first paragraph. By failing to demonstrate knowledge of how a high-voltage electricity grid works, Dr. Bossel further disqualifies himself as a credible source.
Feel free to tell RMP where we you think we got it wrong and please leave a comment whether you support or disagree with RMP. Click here to follow our Twitter feed and click here to like RMP on facebook. Thanks for reading and please share this post on your social media by clicking the share links below. If you can afford to support our Michigan based 501(c) non-profit organization in a financial way please click here to make a tax deductible donation (only deductions made in the USA are tax deductible but we would welcome international contributions too). If you would like to join us and publish your articles right here on RMP’s website and you can support your arguments for green energy with verifiable references, please contact RMP by leaving a comment below or writing to us at email@example.com. We would love to publish more content that debunks junk science. Thanks for reading.
The lead story in RMP’s December 2016 Michigan Oil & Gas Monthly is the MDEQ’s Office of Oil, Gas & Minerals (OOGM) funding woes. But first, it should be noted that the MDEQ announced plugging instructions for the Word of Faith 16-27 on December 19, 2016 which means the well does not look like it’s going to become a long term producer. RMP predicted last month the possible potential of the well producing oil for years to come but this latest bit of news dashes that prediction for the well to be an oil producer. RMP will file a Freedom of Information Act request for the initial production report to get the numbers as soon as they’re available. The public must wait 90 days subsequent to the completion of testing before requesting information. Now on to RMP’s lead story for December 2016…
The OOGM’s funding has taken a big hit in the past two years with the decline of oil & gas prices. The OOGM’s funding is a function of oil & gas sold to market in Michigan. We have seen entire countries whose funding is singularly tied to oil & gas production take massive Continue reading Michigan Oil & Gas Monthly – December 2016→
In June of 2015, the MPSC was challenged to determine the appropriate regulatory response to applications filed pursuant to R 460.867 (Rule 17) for operation of Antrim Shale Formation (ASF) wells under vacuum on Michigan Public Service Commission Case# U-16230. RMP wrote about this story in our August 2015 MOGM. Prior to June 2015, battles had been fought over the issue of operating ASF wells on a vacuum for years. Administrative Law Judge Mark D. Eyster held a pre-hearing on June 15, 2010 to officially get the Continue reading Michigan Oil & Gas Monthly – October 2016→
Respectmyplanet.org (RMP) is a Michigan based 501(c)3 organization dedicated to water conservation through smarter energy production & waste management logistics. RMP, like many environmental groups, advocates for the increased adoption of wind energy and solar energy to meet the world’s energy needs. RMP advocates for the adoption of fuel cell electric vehicles for cleaner air, a stronger economy, and energy independence. RMP seeks common sense energy solutions to wean ourselves off of oil & coal and to improve our economy and national security. To read RMP’s thesis post on the responsible migration away from crude oil as an energy source you can click here.
RMP understands, however, coal and crude oil will be around years to come even if we try our best to adopt better alternatives for producing energy. RMP takes a rational, common sense, & global approach about energy feed stocks like crude oil & coal. We have to do our best to mitigate adverse effects from fossil fuels as long as we continue to use them.
This post is about Carbon Capture & Sequestration (#CCS) in Michigan and RMP’s exclusive new map of all #CCS wells in Michigan. Even as RMP advocates for the responsible migration away from crude oil as an energy source, RMP supports #CCS oil production as a means to keep our American workers working as we wean ourselves off of oil and work to build clean and sustainable hydrogen infrastructure for future generations. Michigan is well poised to produce secondary recovery oil by sequestering CO2. Michigan can be a leader in this technology’s research and development. #CCS technology learned and proven in Michigan can be exported to help poorer countries that will be burning coal for a long time to come. India, for example, on October 2, 2016 signed the Paris Climate Agreement which is almost fully ratified. Indian President Narendra Modi called on fully developed countries like ours to export technology like Michigan’s #CCS tech to help India product cleaner energy. Later in this post we will go over why Michigan is well suited to truly be a global leader in R&D for #CCS technology, but first let’s go over the basics of #CCS.
What is Carbon Capture & Sequestration (#CCS)?
If you’ve been following RMP, like you should be on either Twitter or facebook, you already know what Carbon Capture & Sequestration is. Carbon Capture & Sequestration (also known as #CCS) is the capture of Carbon Dioxide from anthropogenic sources like power plants, cement manufacturing, and fertilizer manufacturing where the CO2 is piped to an abandoned oil well and pumped underground rather than being released to atmosphere. CO2 is a greenhouse gas (GHG) and there is broad consensus amongst scientists that our planet’s climate is being impacted in a negative way by human activities like producing energy using fossil fuels that emit CO2 when burned. You’ll often hear the term anthropogenic CO2, which means CO2 produced by human activities as opposed to naturally occurring CO2.
The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (MRCSP) is a great place to start if you want to learn about #CCS in Michigan or other Midwestern states. The US Department of Energy has divided North America into seven different Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs) and Michigan falls into the MRCSP. RMP encourages you to check out the MRCSP website and to read about the many things going on in our region. You can also check out the US Dept of Energy’s Carbon Capture & Storage Resource Center’s webpage by clicking here. I also encourage you to read Senate Bill S.3179 which is new legislation being sponsored by Heidi Heitkamp that incentivizes #CCS by offering up to a $20 per metric ton credit of CO2 sequestered into a secure geologic formation.
An estimated 1.2 billion barrels of potential oil recovery by CO2-EOR was calculated for our MRCSP region based on available data for 265 oil fields in the Midwest. Oil and gas reservoirs within the MRCSP region have an estimated storage resource capacity of 8,511 million metric tons (MMt). Based on an estimated 850 MMt per year of CO2 emissions, these reservoirs could sequester approximately 10 years worth of CO2 in our region.(1) Detailed reservoir characterization, geologic mapping, and modeling and simulation at the field-scale level are the next steps required to delineate prospective areas for future pilot floods and to plan successful CO2-EOR and sequestration projects within our region.
In addition to geological considerations, other factors that come into play when evaluating CO2-EOR potential in a region include (1) location and availability of CO2 sources (e.g., power plants, steel mills, cement plants) and proximity to oil reservoirs, (2) well spacing, (3) unitization issues, (4) location of improperly plugged wells and well-bore integrity, and (5) economic considerations.
The Department of Energy has divided the process of #CCS into three distinct phases which have been ongoing for years now. Phase 1 was the characterization phase which led to the Carbon Sequestration Atlas of the US & Canada which was last updated in 2012. Phase 2 was the validation phase where 20 small scale geologic storage tests were completed to validate reservoir simulation models, demonstrate accounting methods, and develop guidelines for future projects. Phase 3 is the development phase which is where we are now. Currently there are only six sites throughout the US & Canada that are undergoing Phase 3 long-term CO2 injection projects to validate the science on storage of large volumes of CO2. Michigan is home to one of those six sites. The Dover 2-33 well in Otsego County, which is pictured as the featured image on this post (photo credit: MCRSP) is a well in this small cadre of exclusive projects in North America. As of August 31, 2016 Michigan’s Dover 33 EOR Unit (as it’s called) has sequestered 580,687 tons of CO2, produced 515,284 barrels of oil, provided 170 jobs yielding more than $7.1 million dollars of income, generated $1.3 million in severance & sales taxes, and provided $3.6 million of other taxes & royalties(2). We’ll talk more about what’s going in Michigan with #CCS later in this post.
Why is #CCS Important?
We must face the reality that fossil fuels will be in use for years to come. We must mitigate damaging effects of producing energy from fossil fuels while we work earnestly to move away from them. RMP uses data and science to support our work and we are hoping folks will educate themselves about the ugly truths regarding energy production and why it’s important to face facts. RMP hopes that impassioned environmentalist types against fossil fuels will do more than just cheerlead wind & solar. Supporting wind & solar are great initiatives, but we have to give consideration to the reality of fossil fuels in our lives, our dependency on them, and how we can reduce pollution from them while we work to get off of them.
If fossil fuels were eliminated overnight there would be big problems because of disruptions to our energy needs. This is because crude oil and coal have become an entrenched part of our economy and energy mix over decades. Crude oil and coal didn’t come about overnight and they’re not going to disappear overnight. RMP is a leading non-profit research & watchdog organization of oil production in Michigan and we take on the API on a regular basis with regard to avarice, ignobility, and their misleading ad campaigns. RMP understands, however, that ending the use of crude oil for energy will be a migration that takes time and we must protect the workers who will need new jobs as we make a transition to smarter forms of energy production. RMP will never give the API or their cohorts a free pass for misleading the public, but we have to be realistic about our own culpability in the energy infrastructure that surrounds us today. RMP advocates for education and understanding with regard to our own complicity of oil usage in our economy; pots calling kettles black will get us nowhere. We all must work together to learn geology and energy science to make real progress.
#CCS is a must for becoming GHG Negative and keeping American oil field workers employed while we ramp up new and less volatile jobs in a sustainable hydrogen economy. Producing oil from the sequestration of CO2 is one of the ways environmentalists and an oil industry in its winter years should be able to find common ground.
#CCS is important right now to help us make an impact on reducing anthropogenic GHG emissions to atmosphere. Not only is coal going to continue to be an part of providing energy for American consumers for years to come, it is integral to bringing energy to developing countries around the world. Coal is also used in the manufacture of cement all over the world. Fertilizer production is also a large contributor of CO2. There is no magic wand to wave when it comes to a creating a carbon neutral or GHG negative economy.
RMP recently blogged about how ExxonMobil is poised to be one of the biggest difference makers in reducing GHG emissions because of their partnership with Fuel Cell Energy using #CCS & molten carbonate fuel cells.
#CCS is an immediate concern. We must reduce GHGs from established sources that currently produce a majority percentage of our energy and will continue to persist for the foreseeable future. The longer term concern is developing new energy infrastructure that does not produce GHGs like wind & solar coupled with the production of hydrogen for fuel cells. Making H2 for storage from wind and solar is important for using renewable sources for base load energy for those times when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.
Michigan can be a leader for #CCS technology in the world. Developing and proving out the processes of capturing and sequestering CO2 can be shared with countries like India, China, and many other countries that will be using coal for decades to come.
What Is Going On With #CCS In Michigan?
RMP has been publishing our Michigan Oil & Gas Monthly watchdog magazine for two years now and we have been writing about a Michigan company named Core Energy LLC. Core Energy LLC is a leader in Michigan #CCS and is one of the only operators in Michigan currently capturing and sequestering CO2 into secure geologic formations. Core is the only operator in Michigan currently executing a US Department of Energy Phase 3 long term high-volume CO2 sequestration project. Merit Energy & Jordan Development are also pursuing #CCS in Michigan to a lesser extent.
In EOR using CO2, one or more wells are the injection wells and one or more wells are the producing wells. The idea is that the injection well is being used to push the oil over to the other well. Think of two straws poked vertically through the lid on either end of a shoebox where the shoebox is the hydrocarbon reservoir and the straws are the well bores. You inject something, in this case CO2, down the one straw into this closed loop system and that injection forces something out the other straw.
Michigan is a great test bed for developing #CCS technology because we have all the proper ingredients to make it cost effective. Remember RMP’s philosophy: always follow the money. If things can’t be done economically, they won’t get done. Money always has a critical role in energy projects. The cost of developing new technology is always higher because there is a learning curve associated with it. Michigan has a lot going for it with regard to #CCS because we have an abundance of all the ingredients to help keep the R&D costs of #CCS projects low. Let’s look at the fundamental things needed to make a #CCS project economical:
You need formations that can accept the CO2 and produce oil which helps offset the costs of the R&D, labor costs, and CO2 infrastructure costs. Michigan has 800 known Silurian (Niagaran-Age) Pinnacle Reefs in our Niagaran formation from Manistee to Gaylord and then some.
You need oil & gas know-how, infrastructure, and regulatory agencies that can oversee the safety of the project and the protection of our most valuable natural resource: fresh water. Michigan has thousands of wells drilled into the Niagaran formation, experienced operators, and we also have the MDEQ to oversee regulatory requirements to protect our fresh water.
You need an abundant supply of anthropogenic carbon dioxide nearby to pipeline over to these Niagaran wells in order to pump the CO2 underground and sequester it. Michigan has thousands and thousands of Middle Devonian Antrim Shale gas wells very near the Niagaran wells that produce roughly 80% natural gas and 20% carbon dioxide. The Antrim makes over 1 million tons of CO2 each year that has otherwise just been vented to atmosphere.
Michigan is a prime candidate to develop #CCS technology as we meet all the main requirements very well. This is why the US Department of Energy chose Michigan as one of only six sites developing Phase 3 #CCS projects in the United States and Canada. Michigan’s Middle Devonian Age Antrim Shale generates approximately 1.2 million tons of carbon dioxide each year from six central processing facilities which is currently vented to atmosphere. One of the largest gas-processing facilities in Otsego County generates about 1 billion cubic feet of CO2 each month on average over the last 10 years that has been vented to atmosphere. The average CO2 vented to atmosphere each year from this facility is about 15 billion cubic feet and the average CO2 produced from the Antrim as a whole is about 21 billion cubic feet each year. This CO2 is high quality CO2 for pipelines at about 99% purity.(3)
Let’s do some math to put Antrim CO2 production into perspective: If we convert 21 billion cubic feet of CO2 to pounds or tons, which is how most newspapers write about CO2 emissions, we have to multiply by a factor of 0.1146 and we get about 2.4 billion pounds of CO2 per year vented from the Antrim. If we divide that figure by 2,000 lbs per ton we get about 1.2 million tons of CO2 emitted to the atmosphere from Michigan’s Antrim Shale each year.
For comparison’s sake, the Monroe Power Plant, the biggest power plant in Michigan @ 3,300MW and powered by burning coal, emits about 34.8 billion pounds of CO2 per year to atmosphere, which is about 17.4 million tons. So, the Monroe Power Plant emits about 14 to 15 times more CO2 to atmosphere than the Antrim Shale as a whole. The Monroe Plant also emits about 104k tons of Sulphur Dioxide, 32k tons of Nitrous Oxides, and 780 lbs of Mercury to atmosphere. The Monroe Plant is ranked 7th in the United States for Carbon Dioxide emissions to atmosphere according to SourceWatch. The Monroe Plant was ranked 11th in the US for GHG emissions in a September 29, 2016 @freep article you can read by clicking here.
Plants like the Monroe Power Plant and many more are what #CCS technology is really all about down the road. Companies like Core Energy can use their knowledge and expertise to help reduce the CO2 emissions of plants like the Monroe Power Plant. This is the ultimate goal of #CCS ambitions and why the Department of Energy is helping to fund projects like those undertaken by Core Energy LLC in Northern Michigan. There will be many factors in reducing CO2 emissions from large emission sources but we are closer now than ever before to making these goals safe & economically feasible.
Recently RMP wrote about ExxonMobil & Fuel Cell energy teaming up to add molten carbonate fuel cells to a natural gas power plant in our Fuel Cells 101 post. There is perhaps no greater technology to get excited about than these molten carbonate fuel cells as their CO2 capture signature is like no other diagram out there: they create energy while concentrating CO2 rather than taxing the power plant of energy to capture CO2. Furthermore, molten carbonate fuel cells are modular and can be added as necessary to the power plant depending on the size of the plant thus making their economics better too.
What’s Next for #CCS Proliferation?
As we say repeatedly at RMP: always follow the money. The biggest hurdle with the ambitions of #CCS is and will always be cost. We are in the nascent stages of #CCS now but these are exciting times for advancements in the entire scope of #CCS technology. Michigan is demonstrating itself as a leader in CO2 sequestration with Core Energy LLC’s work in Northern Michigan at the Dover 33 EOR Unit. Fuel Cell Energy in Danbury, Connecticut is demonstrating that molten carbonate fuel cells are a potential game changer for the mass adoption of #CCS because of their cost effectiveness on the “capture” side of CO2. ExxonMobil is providing financial support to small companies like Fuel Cell Energy to take technologies like molten carbonate fuel cells to the next level of mass adoption.
RMP is Michigan’s authority on sustainable energy production and you can follow us on Twitter or like us on facebook to get regular updates as we create new energy maps and blog about sustainable energy advancements. Stay tuned as RMP continues to cover developments in #CCS and other advanced energy technologies. RMP will be writing many more posts about #CCS as news and additional information becomes available.
Check Out RMP’s Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells in Michigan Map
RMP has been demonstrating our watchdog oil well mapping software since High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing (HVHF) came to Michigan. We wanted to know where the HVHF wells were in our state and learn more about them but the maps just didn’t exist. We could not get straight answers to our many questions. Sure there was the MDEQ’s GeoWebFace and other mapping applications out there but we needed something more robust. That’s when RMP was born. I have been working as a watchdog regarding Michigan oil well data and writing my own software for about 7 years now and what separates RMP data from other data sources is our supplemental data table and exclusive software. By creating an RMP exclusive table that works in conjunction with MDEQ public data, has added hooks & sorting criteria to Michigan data you just can’t find anywhere else. Want to know which oils have ground water contamination issues? Want to know which wells target the Niagaran formation? Or which wells use CO2 EOR? There is no other place on the web that can match the Michigan made mapping software exclusive to RMP. Our CO2 EOR map shown below is a great example of a map you just won’t find anywhere else on the internet.
RMP’s Interactive Map of Michigan’s Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells
2. Michigan Phase III Project Update by MRCSP – Note this is a dynamic link and numbers are updated monthly so the numbers quoted at the time of publication will not match the link depending on when you click the link.
3. Matthias Grobe, Jack C. Pashin, Rebecca L. Dodge, Carbon Dioxide Sequestration in Geological Media: State of the Science – American Association of Petroleum Geologists (2009)
RMP is 501(c)3 non-profit organization registered in Michigan. We are committed to protecting fresh water resources by advocating for: sustainable energy production, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, remediating environmental pollution & rethinking waste management.