What do EPA power plant rule changes have to do with hydrogen fuel?

What do EPA power plant rule changes have to do with hydrogen fuel?

May 1, 2024 0 By Tami Hood

The Environmental Protection Agency is considering new tech to establish pollution standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is thinking about excluding hydrogen fuel as it establishes its rule for limiting power plant pollution.

The rule is being built amid heavy industry pushback

According to both environmentalists and industry advocates, changing the rule in a way that would sideline hydrogen fuel likely wouldn’t cause the rule to be any weaker. That said, it isn’t immediately evident what technology will be used as a replacement for hydrogen in order to support the EPA’s final intermediate gas plant standard.

“With the intermediate [standard] for new gas, what we’ll be looking for is: How does EPA define the subcategory, and what pollution control measures are they using to set the emissions rate?” said Clean Task Force attorney Frank Sturges.

The May draft EPA rule looked at two specific hydrogen fuel technologies

In that rule, the EPA pinpointed two benchmark technologies, which were carbon capture and green hydrogen fuel. This was a highly unusual move for the agency, which intends to use the benchmark techs as the basis of its new standard to be applied to large and regularly operated gas plants.

Hydrogen Fuel - Focus on CCUS

What this means is that when the EPA issues its final rule, it is likely to lean on carbon capture to uphold a powerful pollution standard for those types of “baseload” plants.

That said, the proposal put forward by the EPA has identified only hydrogen fuel as the “best system of emission reduction” (BSER) for intermediate units.

Cutting CO2 percent of emissions by 2032

hydrogen news ebookThe proposed rule would require intermediate facilities to cut their carbon emissions by 2032 in order to align with what their reduction would be if they were burning 30 percent “low-greenhouse gas” H2 combined with natural gas.

Among the main arguments against this rule is that green hydrogen fuel – that is, H2 made using renewable energy such as solar or wind to power electrolysis for zero-emission production – is still quite expensive. This means that it is not yet cost-effective for those who would otherwise seek to use it.  Moreover, it was recently determined that a new production tax credit may not do as much to kickstart the green H2 industry as initially believed.

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