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Industry and Academia-Backed Initiative Building Tools to Track ‘Clean’ Hydrogen Emissions

Global efforts to develop clean energy have boosted the profile of hydrogen as a potential source. New regulations, like the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), seek to accelerate hydrogen energy’s development, setting aside $7 billion for the creation of hydrogen hubs and establishing tax credits for producing low-emission hydrogen energy. A key concern, though, is how to track these emissions. The Open Hydrogen Initiative (OHI) seeks to assist in developing proper emissions monitoring and reporting standards and increase transparency among the industry, regulators, and communities. OHI is led by GTI Energy, S&P Global Commodity Insights, and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), with sponsors from industry, academia, advocacy groups, and others in the budding hydrogen energy industry. OHI’s stated goal is to “develop open-source protocols for measuring the carbon intensity of hydrogen at the asset level”. The need for such tools stems from a problem with how the various types of hydrogen energy and their unique emissions and use profiles are categorized. An energy source is needed to produce hydrogen, whether it be natural gas, electricity, or nuclear power, and the initiative wants to quantify the life cycle carbon emissions footprint of each type. Currently, the various types of hydrogen energy are assigned a color, typically to denote the process by which the energy is created. An example is blue hydrogen, which is used to denote hydrogen produced with natural gas using carbon capture technology, or pink hydrogen produced using nuclear power. Though OHI admits that the “color-wheel” system had utility initially, better tools to analyze unique carbon intensities are needed as hydrogen energy continues to develop. The consortium of organizations intends to harness and aggregate the knowledge bases of all members in order to create the most comprehensive set of protocols for hydrogen energy emissions monitoring. Their efforts will result in the creation of a digital tool to accurately report and monitor the various emissions associated with hydrogen energy, with transparency guiding its design. The tool is currently not available for use, but beta versions are anticipated for the end of 2023.

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