Hydrogen projects get funding


CASPER — All three hydrogen projects chosen as grant finalists by the Wyoming Energy Authority two weeks ago have been awarded full funding, the agency said Friday. 

A total of $1.5 million in grants will finance hydrogen feasibility studies by Black Hills Energy, Williams Companies — in partnership with the University of Wyoming — and Jonah Energy. 

The projects were selected from a pool of 10 proposals by a committee that included two representatives from the Energy Authority and one each from the Wyoming Business Council and the Green Hydrogen Coalition. The committee prioritized supporting projects with commercial potential. 

“We have the stock for creating hydrogen in our state,” said Anja Bendel, a program director for the Energy Authority and a member of the selection committee. “The fossil fuel reserves that we have can be used for making hydrogen. So since we are an energy-producing state, we want to continue that position.” 

Hydrogen produced using renewable energy, known as green hydrogen, is completely carbon-free. 

Natural gas and coal can be used to produce cheaper — but more carbon-intensive — blue and gray hydrogen. For the fuel to be considered blue, the vast majority of carbon emissions must be captured and sequestered. Otherwise, it’s classified as gray — a category that encompasses virtually all of the hydrogen produced on an industrial scale today. 

Hydrogen can be combined with carbon dioxide to create synthetic natural gas, which some clean energy advocates view more favorably than drilled gas. 

“I think what blue hydrogen, and other things like it, represents is a way for Wyoming to continue to be marketable in the gas space, because of what consumers, particularly in high-populated areas, are demanding,” Pete Obermueller, president of the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, said in an interview last week. 

The projects funded through the Energy Authority program include a mix of blue and green hydrogen proposals. 

Williams Companies will receive close to $1 million for a proposed $1.2 million analysis of green hydrogen potential in southwestern Wyoming, which it hopes will lead to construction of a future billion-dollar hydrogen and synthetic natural gas hub in the state. 

Another half-million dollars will go to Black Hills Energy for an $815,000 study exploring the production and combustion of both blue and green hydrogen at the company’s Cheyenne Prairie Generating Station. 

It aims to complete its review and begin preliminary testing by 2023. 

And $20,000 in grant money will support Jonah Energy’s creation of a plan to convert surplus renewable energy into synthetic natural gas. Jonah could start building a power-to-gas demonstration facility as soon as next year.

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