Mar 10, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Utah hydrogen hub inches closer to reality

Photo: Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

A Utah power plant could run at least partially on hydrogen within the next five years, according to a contract awarded today between an energy-technology manufacturer and a Utah power agency.

Why it matters: Governments, companies and experts around the world are increasingly looking to renewable hydrogen as a long-term pathway away from oil, natural gas and coal while still using infrastructure initially made for them.

Driving the news: The company that won the contract, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), says this indicates approval for the world’s first-ever turbines specifically designed for a plant to eventually use renewable hydrogen to create electricity.

Where it stands: The power plant, owned by the Intermountain Power Agency, a power cooperative of cities in Utah and California, will be operated by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and provide power to both L.A. and other parts of the two states.

  • The plant, currently powered by coal, will first be transitioned to natural gas, and by 2025, the turbines “will be commercially guaranteed” to use a mix of 30% hydrogen and 70% gas.
  • The company says that will cut carbon emissions by more than 75% compared to coal. 
  • By 2045, MHPS says the turbines' capability will be increased to use 100% renewable hydrogen.

One level deeper: Renewable hydrogen is generated by “using renewable energy to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, in a process called electrolysis,” per this recent deep dive from the L.A. Times on this subject. 

Go deeper: Germany's hydrogen-powered train advancing low-carbon transport

Go deeper

Trump's power-plant carbon rule has conflicting impact

President Trump. Photo: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / Contributor

The Environmental Protection Agency's rule controlling power plants’ carbon emissions cuts C02 but preserve more coal electricity, according to a recent analysis by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Why it matters: It’s believed to be the first such EIA analysis of the regulation, putting meat on the bones of one of President Trump’s biggest regulatory moves to scale back rules from his predecessor.

The renewable energy industry wants a piece of the coronavirus stimulus

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Renewable energy industries and some Democrats have begun efforts to ensure the economic response to the coronavirus outbreak helps a sector that's suddenly facing strong headwinds.

The state of play: The industry has already had discussions with lawmakers' offices about how to proceed, Axios has learned.

Exclusive: Civil rights leaders oppose swift move off natural gas

Photo Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Top American civil rights activists are opposing an abrupt move away from natural gas, putting them at odds with environmentalists and progressive Democrats who want to ban fracking.

Driving the news: In recent interviews, Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and National Urban League President Marc Morial said energy costs are hitting people of color unfairly hard. These concerns, expressed before the coronavirus pandemic, are poised to expand as paychecks shrink across America.