USA’s Public Retail Hydrogen History: A View from Late 2020

Three new hydrogen refueling stations have come online recently that mark a paradigm change in retail hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the USA:

  • Shell Oakland with 800kg capacity Oakland, California 9/20/2019
  • TrueZero Fountain Valley with 1,200kg capacity Fountain Valley, California 7/3/2020
  • TrueZero Mission Hills with 1,200kg capacity Mission Hills, California 10/26/2020

Sometimes when you want to understand where you are or what just happened, you have to look back to appreciate how you got here.  To understand something generationally new, you have to understand its predecessor technology to appreciate the contrast between the way it was and the way it will be going forward.  RMP has been writing about some BIG new hydrogen refueling stations that would be coming online soon, and now… they’re here.  They’re open now.  Now that they’re open & with more BIG stations on the way, it’s starting to set in that we have reached a milestone in retail hydrogen refueling infrastructure.  That said, it seems like a good reflection point to look back at retail hydrogen infrastructure development thus far and understand the USA’s history in hydrogen clean energy technology.

People following hydrogen infrastructure development will have many different takes on where we started and how far we’ve come.  How far to go back in history is an ambiguous question.  RMP will focus on Continue reading “USA’s Public Retail Hydrogen History: A View from Late 2020”

Solving the Climate Crisis – Document Review

The Select Committee on the Climate Crisis recently published (June 2020) a massive (547 page) & comprehensive report called “Solving the Climate Crisis”.   The report was prepared by the Majority Committee Staff of the 116th US Congress pursuant to H.RES.6.

RMP is a non-partisan organization and wanted to give a review of this report as it relates to sustainable energy & put partisan politics aside.  Specifically, RMP wanted to sift through some of the important parts of the report that relate to sustainable hydrogen production & storage.  There is a lot of good news on the hydrogen front in this report that RMP wants to highlight as well as some themes I picked up when reading the report.  First, let’s start with an overview of the whole document and then go back to themes & hydrogen specific news because there’s a lot in this mammoth report.

First the Link.  The 547 page document reviewed in this post is called SOLVING THE CLIMATE CRISIS – The Congressional Action Plan for a Clean Energy Economy and a Healthy, Resilient, and Just America.


The Executive Summary starts with the urgency of the climate crisis and how America’s ingenuity & leadership are central to solving it.  In January 2019, House Resolution 6 created the bipartisan Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to “develop recommendations on policies, strategies, and innovations to achieve substantial and permanent reductions in pollution and other activities that contribute to the climate crisis.” The resolution directed the Select Committee to deliver policy recommendations to the standing legislative committees of jurisdiction for their consideration and action. Over the last 17 months, the Select Committee has consulted with hundreds of stakeholders and scientists, solicited written input, and held hearings to develop a robust set of legislative policy recommendations for ambitious climate action.

The report’s goal is to lay out congressional actions to satisfy the scientific imperative to reduce carbon pollution as quickly and aggressively as possible, make communities more resilient to the impacts of climate change, and build a durable and equitable clean energy economy.  In practical terms, this means building and rebuilding America’s infrastructure, the foundation of the American economy and communities; reinvigorating American manufacturing to create a new generation of secure, good-paying, high-quality jobs; prioritizing investment where it is needed the most, including rural and de-industrialized areas, low-income communities, and communities of color; and beginning to repair the legacy of economic and racial inequality that has left low-income workers and communities of color disproportionately exposed to pollution and more vulnerable to the costs and impacts of climate change.

The document is broad & comprehensive and it is not specific to hydrogen only.  Because RMP focuses primarily on hydrogen infrastructure, this post will examine the hydrogen production & storage portions of the document.  Hydrogen was mentioned heavily from pages 1 to 276 along with other technologies.

Infrastructure Initiatives Related to Hydrogen Production & Storage

I recently stumbled on the terms gray hydrogen, blue hydrogen, & green hydrogen.  I’m embarrassed to say I had to look up the difference between gray & blue hydrogen.  As much as I follow this vector of the energy industry, I only confidently knew what green hydrogen is.  Let’s go over the three basic types of produced hydrogen because they’re well differentiated through this big document and it’s very important to distinguish between them.

Gray Hydrogen = hydrogen made from natural gas

Blue Hydrogen = hydrogen made from natural gas with CO2 capture & sequestration

Green Hydrogen = hydrogen made with renewable or surplus renewable energy like solar & wind.  Also, hydrogen made from renewable natural gas.


It’s important to distinguish between gray, blue, and green hydrogen for a couple reasons when reading this document as there are certain themes that develop in the first 247 pages.  One of those themes is that our US Department of Energy has become “siloed” and is no longer fit to capitalize on synergies given its outdated structure with new technologies on the rise.  For example, here’s a quote from page 215 & 216 discussing this key bit of information:

The applied energy offices are largely organized by fuel and focus mostly on distinct technologies rather than energy systems. This has caused potentially cross-cutting technologies to be siloed into single applications—such as carbon capture for power generation and hydrogen for transportation, despite both having potential to reduce industrial emissions—and has led to fragmented approaches for or complete disregard of other key platform technologies. Separating basic energy sciences from applied energy also prevents coordination that can help technologies move from the research stage to development and demonstration. There are multiple possible ways to restructure DOE, and many experts disagree on the best method. Some proposals include keeping basic and applied energy research under one Under Secretary to maintain their coordination and organizing applied energy offices by end-use sector rather than fuel.  The reorganization should seek to create a structure that is best suited for accomplishing the updated DOE mission of decarbonization and climate mitigation, as recommended above.

That’s one of the key take aways from the document with regard to reorganizing our energy department to coordinate efforts with CO2 capture & hydrogen production as outlined on page 215-216 above.  This is an important thing to note before we look at several key passages of the document as they relate to “blue hydrogen“.   Blue hydrogen plays a key role in the first 247 pages especially as it relates to industrialized sectors of the economy and the people that live near industrialized urban areas.   Ports are a great example of places that produce tons of noxious fumes that could benefit from blue hydrogen now as green hydrogen sources are developed.  Another example of where blue hydrogen can play a key role is in steel making.  We have the hydrogen technology now to strip CO2 from CH4 & sequester it in geologic formations (as RMP wrote about #CCS in Michigan here).   This “blue hydrogen” can be used to make steel with 90% less CO2 emissions and almost negligible SOx, NOx, & Hg.

Another key thread through the first 247 pages is how hydrogen is not taking a back-seat to any other technology.  The myth of hydrogen versus battery is starting to fade and be replaced by the more common sense approach of hydrogen & batteries working together.   Hydrogen is mentioned in tandem with other technologies throughout the report with dignitas.   In fact, in the urban industrial energy section of the document, hydrogen seems to be the only technology that gets talked about for decarbonized energy (e.g steel making & ammonia).   Hydrogen & batteries are cousins and work together, not against one another.

Let’s look at some key “clips” from this big document to highlight the major points.  The number one point, the only point that can truly move the needle for clean energy, is money money money.   The “ITC” or investment tax credit has always been the #1 most important thing where the rubber hits the road.   Let’s look at this first & most important clip talking about the ITC for hydrogen production & storage technology.

Clip from page 57:

Currently, storage is not independently eligible for an ITC. Rep. Michael Doyle (D-PA) and Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act of 2019 (H.R. 2096/S. 1142), which would create an energy storage ITC for batteries, compressed air, pumped hydropower, hydrogen, thermal energy storage, regenerative fuel cells, flywheels, capacitors, and superconducting magnets. Section 102 of the GREEN Act of 2020 (H.R. 7330) would expand the ITC to include energy storage technology and extend the ITC so that energy storage technologies are eligible for a 30% ITC through 2025. The bill would phase down the ITC to 26% in 2026 and to 22% in 2027. Section 104 of the bill would allow taxpayers to choose a lower tax credit value in exchange for the option to be refunded for any resulting overpayment (“direct pay”).

As you can see above, hydrogen for storage investments is included in the proposed ITC language.  There can be no more important passage regarding hydrogen technology in the document than hydrogen storage qualifying for the ITC.  30% ITC until 2026 should give hydrogen a strong advantage to scale given large scale storage with hydrogen has better economics than any other technology even without an ITC.   With a 30% ITC, large purchase orders for salt cavern geologic hydrogen storage, multiple tank pressurized hydrogen storage, and ammonia (NH3) storage will be written quickly.   Hydrogen storage is up to an order of magnitude cheaper than lithium ion batteries in extended duration megawatt hour storage.  Manufacturers of hydrogen production equipment should be able to use this ITC to highly leverage their scaling advantage as part of the storage process for green hydrogen.  This would allow for rapid reduction of greenhouse gasses.

Graphic above shows clearly how the only week & seasonal class storage that comes close to hydrogen is pumped hydro which is only available in very specific geographies. Hydrogen is not bound by geography so it has a huge advantage in mWh class storage.  By including hydrogen for investment tax credit, growth will accelerate & meaningful reductions in carbon emitting energy will occur.  This has been something RMP has been writing about for years now.  (graphic above comes from IEA, not congressional report)

Clip from page 73:

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) introduced the American Energy Opportunity Act of 2019 (H.R. 5335), which would establish a process to standardize permitting for distributed energy systems, including distributed renewable energy generation from solar, wind, hydrogen electrolysis and fuel cell systems, energy storage, electric vehicle (EV) chargers, and hydrogen fuel cell refueling.

This clip is highlighted because it was one of many similar passages:  mentioning hydrogen in the same sentence as other distributed energy systems without hesitation and in the same regard as other solutions.  It demonstrates a paradigm shift away from over ten years of FUD & stonewalling against hydrogen.  Hydrogen has now performed a decade of demonstrations on the longevity & durability of fuel cell stacks in all temperatures & environments.  The successful demonstrations in all forms of transportation & stationary performance for over ten years has silenced the hydrogen myths & critics.  Hydrogen has been safely deployed in busses, trains, cars, airplanes, buildings and maritime vessels for years now.  It’s legitimacy is accepted and 2020 starts the decade of hydrogen scaling.

Clip from page 90:

In May 2019, Reps. Mike Levin (D-CA) and Joe Neguse (D-CO) introduced H.R. 2764, the Zero-Emission Vehicles Act of 2019. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Senate companion (S. 1487). The bill requires that 50% of sales for new passenger vehicles be ZEVs by 2030. The sales requirement ramps up 5% each year to achieve 100% of new vehicle sales by 2040. The bill is technology-neutral, allowing for electric vehicles, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, and other potential zero-emission technologies to qualify.

Theme developing that I like about the document is just about everywhere there was talk about helping zero emission transportation develop, electricity & hydrogen were mentioned in tandem without debate and with equanimity.  It’s working that people are starting to understand that electricity & hydrogen  work together, not against each other.  They’re truly cousins that share an anode & a cathode in their fundamental DNA.  The only difference is one keeps its energy “inside the house” and the other keeps its energy “in the barn out back”.  Batteries & hydrogen are darn near the same thing, so it’s good to see them starting to be recognized as cousins working together to replace fossil fuels with camaraderie.

Clip from page 126:

The public and private sectors are unlikely to adopt zero-emission trucks at scale until the supporting fueling infrastructure is convenient and widespread. CALSTART estimates that converting the nation’s trucking infrastructure to support zero- or near-zero-emission fuels will require $50 billion to $100 billion in public and private investment.329

The Clean Corridors Act of 2019, introduced by Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE) as S. 674 in the Senate and Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) as H.R. 2616 in the House, provides grant funding to state, local, and tribal governmental entities to facilitate installation of electric charging stations and hydrogen fueling infrastructure along designated corridors in the National Highway System. The bill envisions that this infrastructure would have to accommodate large vehicles, including semi-trailer trucks.

The passage above was a gem of a find for RMP.  Actually the bit that was so cool to find was footnote #329 which explains a $137 million dollar investment in electric charging & hydrogen refueling infrastructure throughout key cross country corridors for heavy duty trucking.   Not only is this fantastic news on its face, the link also had GIS mapping of these hydrogen corridors which is the first time I’ve ever seen that.  This will allow RMP to lift those latitudes & longitudes to add these future “hydrogen corridors” to our Google Map of all hydrogen refueling infrastructure in the USA.   RMP’s map of hydrogen refueling infrastructure can be found here & is constantly being updated:

Clip from page 257:

To achieve wide use of hydrogen at a reasonable cost, industry will need infrastructure to generate and transport hydrogen to facilities and to store hydrogen before and after transport. One option is to generate hydrogen at a small number of large-scale facilities and then distribute it through a pipeline network to individual industrial facilities. Another option is to generate it at a larger number of more dispersed, small-scale facilities, which would require less distribution infrastructure. Instead of transporting hydrogen directly, hydrogen producers could also transform the hydrogen into ammonia or methane for transport or storage.

This important passage mentions supporting technology to transform hydrogen into methane & ammonia.  The word being used throughout the document is “building block” and there’s a heavy focus on industrial applications.  One of the things I have always thought people failed to realize is the connection between industrial applications and transportation.  When industry starts creating more & more hydrogen, it becomes more ubiquitous for refueling.  When it becomes more ubiquitous for refueling, people will look around to each other and realize the chicken/egg problem they’ve been talking about for over a decade has miraculously solved itself.  The next chicken/egg joke will be that people will ask: which came first the hydrogen vehicle or the hydrogen refueling station?

After about page 276, the document shifts to political wrangling of who is going to finance this massive overhaul of our energy sector.  The document goes into other areas after page 276 like carbon removal, taxing people who produce carbon intensive energy, and carbon taxes in general.  Basically, this is the part when you ask “Who’s going to pay for all this?” and the current companies that are dying are going to be asked to pay for the initiatives.  This is the part where I really think we need to work together to train our workers in current industries to do new jobs in new industries.  We cannot throw the baby out with the bath water so to speak.  We must let fabricators, production managers, warehouse personnel, engineers, and the like find pathways to jobs in a zero emission future from their current jobs to produce fossil based energy.  We cannot give all subsidies to startups with no track record while tax paying workers lose their jobs through this transition.  We must make sure we create good jobs & a tax paying base with people from industries that will be phasing out.

Please read document yourself as I only picked a couple selected passages out for review.  There’s a ton more information in there at 547 pages.  Thanks for reading RMP’s little review of this big document as it relates to hydrogen production & storage infrastructure.

Carbon Capture & Sequestration (#CCS) – Michigan’s Leading Role (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.

Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs)
Seven different Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships (RCSPs) have been established by the US Department of Energy to help develop the technology, infrastructure, and regulations to implement large-scale CO2 storage. (Credit: US Dept of Energy)

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 produce 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.

#CCS Carbon Capture & Sequestration
Merit Energy’s #CCS unit in Kalkaska, Michigan. The well pictured, the State Kalkaska F 2-24 WIW, is a water injection well that is part of a three well #CCS unit. Often times in Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) there are two methods to “shape” the recovery of Remaining Oil In Place (ROIP) within the reservoir. Sometimes the first part of EOR using #CCS is called the immiscible portion of the project whereby water is injected into the reservoir. The second part, the miscible portion, is when the CO2 is injected into the reservoir. Immiscible means that water and oil do not mix, and miscible means that CO2 & oil do mix.

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.

CO2 Wells in Michigan
This is a static map of all CO2 flooding EOR units in Michigan. This map is the kind you often see on most websites, a static screenshot. RMP, however, hosts this map as an interactive map where you can zoom in, click on the markers, get access to the well files, upload pictures to the location & more! Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our interactive map, or click here to open our new interactive map of Michigan CO2 wells in a new window.  Click image to enlarge.

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.

CCS Carbon Sequestration
This is a representation of a CO2 injection well in Michigan prepared by Batelle. In this example, the Otsego Central Processing Facility separates CO2 from CH4 in raw Antrim gas. The CO2 is piped over to an injection well and about 6,000 feet to a Niagaran Pinnacle Reef formation (orange bubble near bottom of image). That CO2 “pushes” the oil over to the production well where the pressure forces it up to the surface. The CO2 is removed from the oil again and piped back over to the injection well.

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.


The MRCSP surveyed multiple locations within our midwest region for Phase 2 sequestration projects. In all of North America, Michigan now has one of only six Phase 3 sequestration projects underway in all of North America. (Image Credit:  MRCSP)

#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.

#CCS carbon dioxide
As of June 21, 2016 the atmospheric concentration of CO2 registered at 406.6 ppm.  This is the brand new statistic from the famous Mauna Loa Observatory that everyone has been talking about all week long. As you can see from the this graph, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is rising steadily and the #1 contributor is power generation through the combustion of coal. RMP works hard to educate people about how coal & natural gas can be used without combustion and without releasing CO2, SOx, NOx, Mercury, or particulate matter to atmosphere. Solar and wind are great and RMP advocates for them, but this graph trend will not change without #CCS. If you don’t think #CCS is higher priority than solar & wind growth for climate change, you’re peddling junk science. (source: Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

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?

Michigan has 10 different EOR units employing #CCS made up of 37 wells. One unit is in Kalkaska and the other 9 are in the Gaylord area. You can click here to see RMP’s map of all of Michigan’s CO2 sequestration wells or you can scroll to the bottom of this post to see our brand new CO2 sequestration map of well units. RMP has been developing PHP, JavaScript, and MySQL software using the Google Maps API v3 for over 7 years now. RMP’s new #CCS interactive Google map is one of the new showcase features we can program up that you just can’t find elsewhere on the Internet. RMP’s Michigan made software is becoming more powerful by the month and soon major upgrades are going to be implemented to make our maps even more user-friendly and easy to use. It’s easy to make a Google Map of restaurants or store locations, but RMP’s software is much different. RMP’s environmental mapping software allows us to use SQL queries to map specific data that can help scientists and educators get the maps that matter.

Roughly three quarters of all CO2 emissions come from power generation. This is why RMP advocates for coal gasification, HELE coal plants, and carbon dioxide capture & sequestration. Coal is going to be used for decades to come whether you would like it not. We might agree that solar & wind are capable of providing all of our energy one day, but that day is in the future. Let’s focus on science and education and stop witch hunting energy producers. We need to work together on solutions that make progress.  How can energy consumers have any less culpability than energy producers?  We must get rational and speak out against the fear mongering and junk science rhetoric of groups like Sierra Club, Food & Water Watch, and so many others that  ironically threaten our environment and water more than they help it.

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)

CO2 map
This map shows locations of carbon storage field tests under the United States Department of Energy partnership program. Field tests are an essential step toward commercial deployment of #CCS technology. (source: U.S. Dept of Energy)

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.

core energy
RMP covers energy for Michigan and the world. RMP has been writing about oil & gas and fuel cells and other topics like #CCS in Michigan for a long time. Many outlets in Michigan are turning to our organization to get the real data on what’s going on. We are out in the woods and we cover every corner of Michigan. This picture is of a Core Energy well which you can find on our map. RMP cares about Michigan and we are different than any environmental group you’ve ever seen. Follow us to keep up with what’s happening on the Michigan and global energy scene. (Photo Credit: Neo)

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 is a small and unfunded non-profit organization and I write this software in my free time. I have a full time job to pay my bills, but we really could use your financial support to get our organization to the next level. If RMP had funding to work full time and pay our volunteers, we could be a leader in environmental organizations in Michigan when it comes to helping Michigan make the transition to sustainable energy and high paying jobs for Michigan workers. RMP is a Michigan based 501(c)3 organization so if you can make a donation to help us continue and expand our organization your donation will be tax deductible. RMP is registered with the Michigan Attorney General’s office to solicit for your donations and we would really appreciate your support to expand what we do. Our overhead is next to nothing as we use all free software apps like PHP, JavaScript, MySQL, HTML, WordPress, and the Google Maps API to bring you this website for free. Our volunteers are also the best researchers in the state and every one of the “big” environmental organizations in Michigan comes to us when they need reliable fact base information. Check out the map below which shows all EOR CO2 wells in Michigan.  This map will evolve as the layout changes in our state and new information becomes available. Click here if you can afford to make a tax-deductible donation to to help our organization grow.   Thank you.


RMP’s Interactive Map of Michigan’s Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells

Click Here To Enlarge RMP’s Michigan’s Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells Map

Click Here To Open RMP’s Michigan’s Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Wells Map Map In A New Full Screen Tab



1. Geologic Storage Options and Capacities for Carbon Dioxide
Sequestration in the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership

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) – Link to Book

Michigan Oil & Gas Monthly – March 2016

Crickets.   New oil & gas activity in the Michigan Basin is so slow through the first quarter of 2016 that the only thing you can hear at the OOGM permitting department is crickets.  2015 was the slowest year in Michigan oil & gas history for new permitting activity breaking the old record set in 1931.   In the first three months of 2015, the slowest year in Michigan history, the Office of Oil, Gas, & Minerals (OOGM) had received 24 applications and had issued 28 permits.  As of today, through the first three months of 2016, Michigan’s OOGM has received only two applications and issued only six permits.   New oil & gas permitting activity in 2016 is on pace to set the bar substantially lower than last year’s record as the slowest year ever.

As always, however, there’s a lot going on in Michigan oil & gas even if the permitting department of the OOGM is Continue reading “Michigan Oil & Gas Monthly – March 2016”

Michigan Law 101 – How A Bill Becomes A Law

michigan legislature capitol

Understanding how a bill works its way through the Michigan legislature and becomes a law can be complicated if you don’t know where to start.  The process can be broken down, however, so it’s at least easier to understand the 101 basics. By the time you’ve finished reading this post you will know the fundamentals of how an idea becomes a Michigan Bill, how that bill works its way through Michigan’s legislature, and how that bill becomes a law. This post will also show you some web-based tools that can help you easily track a bill’s lifecycle and how to find a bill’s actual written text. It’s important to read the sponsored legislation verbatim rather than relying solely on another person’s opinion or cliff notes about the bill. RMP has done a couple “101” posts for subjects including Michigan Petroleum Geology 101 and Michigan Petroleum Production 101 in past posts and now it’s time for Continue reading “Michigan Law 101 – How A Bill Becomes A Law”