According to a new report, Wyoming could be a leader in the Rocky Mountain region for developing a low-carbon hydrogen economy.
The Wyoming Energy Authority and Cheyenne-Laramie County Corporation for Economic Development released the ‘Roadmap to Build a Hydrogen Economy’ earlier this month.
Hydrogen is considered a ‘cleaner’ alternative to other energy sources like coal and natural gas.
“When you burn hydrogen, you don’t end up with carbon dioxide, which is one of the byproducts that you get when you burn natural gas,” Anja Bendel, the Wyoming Energy Authority program director, said. “So as our markets are demanding low carbon options, hydrogen is one that can fill that need.”
The main goal with the Hydrogen Roadmap is to begin producing hydrogen in Wyoming. Bendel said much of the infrastructure is already in place to produce hydrogen in Wyoming, as with modifications hydrogen can be created at wind, solar and natural gas facilities.
Bendel said several private companies have already shown interest. So the next step is to adapt facilities to be able to produce hydrogen. She said she expects this to happen in the next three years.
“We’re looking at the whole lifecycle of hydrogen, so looking at producing it, how we transport it, to where it’s going to be used, and end use,” Bendel said.
Currently, the major hydrogen producing states are California, Louisiana and Texas.
Some major challenges the Hydrogen Roadmap identifies are passing legislation that supports cleaner energy, lagging investment in the storage and transportation of hydrogen, and being conscious of the critical role water plays in hydrogen production.
“We just need to look critically at our resources and make sure that we’re being good stewards of the natural resources and everything that we have,” Bendel said. “And so we need to be looking at what that water consumption is, as well as what the impact would be on different communities.”
Studies show that to produce one-kilogram of hydrogen gas requires about 2.4 gallons of water, which is about the same amount of water needed to refine the same amount of petroleum.