Kelly Echols and Eric Martin Look at the Use of Hydrogen as a Fuel to Reduce GHG Emissions


Chemical patent attorney Kelly Echols and natural resource attorney Eric Martin contributed an article to POWER magazine titled “The Hydrogen Rainbow: Elected Officials Focus on Green,” published April 23, 2021. The authors discuss how hydrogen is generated, how it is used as a fuel or means to store energy for later use, and what steps are being taken in several states and by the federal government to encourage its production and use.

There are several methods for producing hydrogen, each of which has been denoted by a color to indicate the level of carbon emissions in its production. “Green” hydrogen is created using electrolysis and renewable energy. When a renewable energy supply is greater than demand, hydrogen generated in this way can be used to “store” renewable energy for use when demand exceeds supply.

The authors note that bills have been enacted in California, Oregon and Washington to, respectively, call for state government to promote green hydrogen as a form of energy that can meet clean energy goals, create a statutory framework for utilities to invest in “renewable natural gas,” and authorize public utility districts to generate “renewable hydrogen” and to sell it in containers for use in manufacturing.

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan calls for “pairing an investment in 15 decarbonized hydrogen demonstration projects … with a new production tax credit,” and also for investing $15 billion in climate change-related demonstration projects, including hydrogen.

Echols and Martin conclude: “The legislative efforts to date promoting the production and use of green hydrogen, although still somewhat nascent, are likely to grow, particularly as the resulting projects come to fruition and economic and environmental benefits are realized. Spurring investment and growth are perennial legislative goals, and when combined with addressing climate change, green hydrogen may well lead to the end of the rainbow.”

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