Stop the Hydrogen Hype – Virginia Mercury

By Mary Finley-Brook

Hydrogen energy generated from natural gas can be a higher Carbon footprint to be used directly for heating as natural gas or coal.

Hydrogen types are not the same: the production of green hydrogen is based on renewable sources, yellow hydrogen comes from nuclear energy, gray hydrogen comes from fossil fuels and blue hydrogen especially from fossil gas. Blue hydrogen, the guy proposed for Chickahominy Power Plant, begins by converting methane to hydrogen and carbon dioxide using heat, steam and pressure. the Process takes a long time much energy, usually provided by burning more gas. Blue hydrogen is being promoted by the gas industry to create yet another made-up “bridge” fuel instead of switching directly to renewable energies. The hydrogen hype is bringing a new generation of gas-fired power plants at a time when a majority is in favor of climate protection and awareness of the climate damage caused by methane from fossil gas is growing.

Many experts suggest that Hydrogen plays a key role in some forms of energy generation in the not too distant future. Independent voices also make it clear that combining hydrogen from dirty fuels with effective carbon capture in current blue hydrogen will not help the climate. In addition, there is no room in today’s base power plants to use hydrogen, and blue hydrogen is a particularly poor choice for peak-time plants because of its prohibitive cost. Previous studies are not clear about the full cost of production ‘Net zero’ blue hydrogen. By 2030, green hydrogen from renewable sources could be cheaper than gray hydrogen from fossil fuels. Green hydrogen is expected to be available by 2050 a third of the cost of blue hydrogen.

The Charles City County-approved Chickahominy Power Plant would produce 6.5 million tons of CO2e carbon dioxide annually – to destroy any illusion that a gas system does less harm to our atmosphere. After the Chickahominy facility was approved, developers announced the use of untested hydrogen technology that could increase its impact on the climate and water. Environmental professionals and environmental justice organizations such as Concerned Charles City County Citizens (C5) have raised concerns about hydrogen to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) staff and administration, the Citizens’ Inspectorate, and the project developer. In any case, concerns were not addressed.

Balico, LLC, the multinational developer of the Chickahominy Pipeline, LLC, tried a new 83-mile pipeline proposed as a gas source for the Charles City Commercial Gas Works, despite the location of closer gas pipelines, Bypass the SCC regulation the acquisition of land and project construction. To SCC staff recommended Supervising the gas project, the developers used an open house on December 9th to present inaccurate greenwashings related to hydrogen to make these controversial gas projects more palatable at a time when fossil fuels are faced with regulatory and financial hurdles. Government agencies must review the evidence before accepting an unregulated change to the 1,650 MW gas facility.

Civil rights activists celebrated December 3rd Rejection of the Lambert Compressor Stationwhen the Air Pollution Control Board determined that developers in hotspots like Chatham, Virginia are not allowed to add new pollutants. Building new gas infrastructure would have an unfair impact on black households in this rural community. The same environmental justice standards should be maintained in Charles City County.

Chickahominy Gas Works used incorrect environmental justice assessments later approved by the Friends of Buckingham on appeal in the U.S. 4th District Court of Appeals. A state mandate to protect marginalized groups was included in the Environmental Justice Act 2020. The Chickahominy gas plant is located in a minority affected area, which makes the hydrogen hype even worse: reopen permits for the Chickahominy gas plant or risk environmental racism and climate injustice escalating. DEQ cannot enforce a victim zone in Charles City County when the industry is making best-on-show claims.

Mary Finley-Brook is an Associate Professor of Geography and Environment at the University of Richmond.

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