The “Blue hydrogen plant touted for Louisiana” is a valuable investment to reduce carbon emissions.
Hydrogen production from the proposed plant will serve as industrial feedstock for refinery catalytic cracking, fertilizer production and other chemical processes. Natural gas is not a substitute.
A Nov. 8 article suggested Air Products blue hydrogen project amounts to "greenwashing" and that the “process might lead to more greenhouse emissions than burning natural gas.” The article quoted Darryl Malek-Wiley of the Sierra Club that carbon-capture and blue hydrogen “is a shell game” and “it doesn’t work.”
Also, Cornell professor Bob Howarth said blue hydrogen “appears difficult to justify on climate grounds,” apparently assuming the hydrogen would be burned for energy.
These conclusions err because currently available renewable power from solar cells, wind energy, etc., will not exceed electricity generated by coal and natural gas. The most efficient use of renewable energy is direct consumption to the electrical grid, displacing power generated by hydrocarbons, which account for 60% of the U.S. electrical power (coal 20%, natural gas 40%). Not electrolysis to make hydrogen.
One mWh of electricity can generate 18.2 kg of hydrogen from electrolysis. This amount of electrical energy from coal or natural gas releases 989 kg or 407 kg of carbon dioxide, respectively.
Making this amount of hydrogen from steam reforming of natural gas releases only 218 kg of CO2, which combined with carbon-capture and storage of 95% makes blue hydrogen by far the better deal limiting CO2 release.
Further developing CCS infrastructure is a good fit for Louisiana and a critical need for the U.S. The science and technology of CCS is sound. To say that it does not work is wrong. Several CCS projects currently operate globally.