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Carbon Intensity of Hydrogen Production Methods - Supporting the BC Hydrogen Strategy

Mar 3, 2023

This report is the result of collaboration between the B.C. Centre for Innovation & Clean Energy, Deloitte, (S&T)2 Consultants, and the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation. Our teams have worked closely to obtain and validate data inputs and assumptions required to model carbon intensities of hydrogen production pathways that are realistic and representative for British Columbia.

The report "Carbon Intensity of Hydrogen Production Methods" examines the role of hydrogen in helping British Columbia (BC) achieve its net-zero emissions target by 2050. It focuses on understanding the carbon intensity (CI) of different hydrogen production pathways, which is crucial for making informed decisions about hydrogen's role in decarbonization. CI, a measure of greenhouse gas emissions per unit of energy produced, is expressed in grams of CO₂ equivalent per megajoule.

Key points from the report include:

  • Hydrogen's Role in Decarbonization: Hydrogen is vital for BC's transition to a low-carbon economy, particularly under the BC Hydrogen Strategy, which supports low-carbon hydrogen production to meet climate targets and economic goals​​.

  • Carbon Intensity in Hydrogen Production: CI is fundamental for decision-making and investment in hydrogen pathways, helping to build BC’s hydrogen economy in alignment with provincial net-zero goals​​.

  • Global Trends in Hydrogen Production: The report reviews hydrogen strategies from various jurisdictions, highlighting themes like leveraging CI thresholds to promote low-carbon hydrogen production, defining lifecycle boundaries for uniform CI determination, and enabling low-carbon production through supportive policies, including carbon capture utilization and storage (CCUS) and electricity cost incentives​​.

  • Hydrogen Production Technologies in BC: The study focuses on three main hydrogen production technologies suitable for BC: methane reforming with carbon capture and storage (CCS), methane pyrolysis, and electrolysis, considering three variations of each, totaling nine pathways​​.

  • Modelling Results: The modelling reveals differences in the lifecycle CI of these technologies. For example, autothermal reforming (ATR) and electric steam methane reforming (ESMR) generate half the CI of the more traditional steam methane reforming (SMR). Downstream emissions like transportation also significantly impact the lifecycle CI for longer-distance pathways​​.

  • Hydrogen Blending and Emission Reductions: The report analyzes greenhouse gas emissions reductions achievable by blending hydrogen into BC’s natural gas network. It finds that blending hydrogen at about 20% by volume into the natural gas network for utility heating can achieve annual emission reductions of 350,000 to 815,000 tonnes of CO₂ equivalent​​.

  • Future Projections for CI in BC: Currently, hydrogen production in BC can achieve cradle-to-plant-gate CIs ranging from 11.9 to 40.1 gCO₂e/MJ. By 2030, these CIs are expected to reduce further, and by 2040 and beyond to 2050, CI thresholds could be reduced even more, primarily driven by increased carbon capture rates and market availability for solid carbon in pyrolysis​​.

Overall, the report emphasizes the importance of hydrogen in reducing emissions and achieving BC's climate goals, while also providing a roadmap for future technological and policy developments in the field.

Read the report here:

Download PDF • 4.95MB

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