Carbon capture, utilization and storage will play a major role in shaping the future of global energy consumption. CCUS involves the capture of CO2 from large point sources, including power generation or industrial facilities that use either fossil fuels or biomass for fuel. The CO2 can also be captured directly from the atmosphere. If not being used on-site, the captured CO2 is compressed and transported by pipeline, ship, rail or truck to be used in a range of applications, or injected into deep geological formations (including depleted oil and gas reservoirs or saline formations) which trap the CO2 for permanent storage.
CCUS technologies will be crucial into improving blue hydrogen capabilities as it becomes a more adopted energy source in the coming decades.
Hydrogen is widely viewed as a low-carbon fuel for generating electricity and storing energy, powering cars, trucks and trains and heating buildings. The European Commission cited hydrogen as being a solution capable of decarbonizing “industrial processes and economic sectors where reducing carbon emissions is both urgent and hard to achieve”.
Hydrogen made from natural gas must incorporate carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) into the process to be low-carbon. This process is one way of making what is commonly referred to as ‘blue hydrogen’.
When hydrogen is made from water via electrolysis, the process must be powered by a low-carbon source such as renewable energy to be a low-carbon process. This process is commonly referred to as ‘green hydrogen’.
Blue hydrogen and green hydrogen have no commonly agreed-on definition. Some might describe any hydrogen production process that utilizes CCUS as ‘blue hydrogen’, even when natural gas isn’t the feedstock. Others might call any production process that utilizes electrolysis ‘green hydrogen’, even if it uses grid power that would result in an increase in CO2 over use of natural gas.
Blue hydrogen is currently utilised in powering cars and trains however the industry is still very much in its infancy. Technologies are likely to improve further in particularly in CCUS process. Green hydrogen on the other hand is still largely conceptual and yet to be rolled out on a commercial basis.