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

Sneak peek: Robert Gates' new book discusses serving 8 presidents

Screenshot via NBC

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates — who played the unusual role of bridging the Bush and Obama administrations, and served eight presidents of both parties — is out Tuesday with "Exercise of Power: American Failures, Successes, and a New Path Forward in the Post-Cold War World" (Knopf).

The big picture: Gates argues that the U.S. should have withdrawn from Afghanistan in 2002, cyber has become the most powerful weapon in a nation's arsenal, and North Korea has no intention of ever giving up its nuclear weapons.

Updated Jun 18, 2020 - Energy & Environment

Clean energy player Greentown Labs to open space in oil capital Houston

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Greentown Labs, the big Boston-area incubator of clean technology startups, is opening a second space in Houston, the heart of the U.S. oil industry.

Why it matters: It shows efforts to accelerate changes are already underway in the energy ecosystem even as fossil fuels remain dominant, and the cross-pollination between emerging and legacy industries.

Chris Sacca returns to venture capital with clean energy firm

Photo Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Photo by Nicola Gell/Getty Images for SXSW.

Chris Sacca was one of the past decade's most successful venture capitalists, with a run that included early bets in such companies as Instagram, Twitter and Uber. Then, in 2017, he quit.

Driving the news: Sacca is good at investing, but bad at retiring. He's now running a new firm called Lowercarbon Capital, focused on startups that are developing "technologies to reduce CO2 emissions, remove carbon from the atmosphere, and actively cool the planet."