Before you do anything else, it might be interesting to graphically see the biomass cycle…

Biofuels, Biomass & Biogas

Biofuels, Biomass & Biogas

People have used biomass energy — energy from living things — since the earliest “cave men” first made wood fires for cooking or keeping warm. The most common biomass materials are plants, such as corn and soy. Biomass is an organic renewable energy source that includes materials such as agriculture and forest residues, energy crops, and algae. Used to fuel electric generators and other machinery.

It can also, unlike other renewable energy sources, be converted directly into liquid fuels, called “biofuels,” to help meet transportation fuel needs. Scientists and engineers at the U.S. Department of Energy, and its national laboratories, are finding new, more efficient ways to convert biomass into biofuels that can take the place of conventional fuels like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Examples of biofuels include ethanol (often made from corn in the United States and sugarcane in Brazil), biodiesel (from vegetable oils and liquid animal fats), green diesel (derived from algae and other plant sources), and biogas (methane derived from animal manure and other digested organic material).

Unfortunately, trees are also being burned. About 20% of the energy the EU counts and subsidies as “renewable” comes from logging and burning forest wood. This increases carbon pollution, destroys forest ecosystems, and adds to air pollution. Burning forest biomass isn’t carbon neutral or even “low carbon” as the idea of “renewable” implies. Leading scientists recognize that regrowing forests to offset CO2 from burning wood takes decades to centuries. Not to mention that per unit of energy, biomass results in higher emissions than coal.


Startups Aim to Turn Plant Waste Into Concentrated Carbon—and Bury It

By Matt Simon 01/16/24
In a roundabout way, coal is solar-powered. Millions of years ago, swamp plants soaked up the sun’s energy, eating carbon dioxide in the process. They died, accumulated, and transformed over geologic time into energy-dense rock.…
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NREL Patent Activity Climbed in FY ’22 as Researchers Recognize More Eureka Moments

By Wayne Hicks 02/02/23
There must be a better way. That thought has sparked more scientific advancements, more eureka moments, more patent applications. For a quartet of researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the notion of converting…
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U.S. Department of Energy Awards $118 Million to Accelerate Domestic Biofuel Production

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $118 million in funding for 17 projects to accelerate the production of sustainable biofuels for America’s transportation and manufacturing needs. The selected projects, located at universities and…
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Whistleblower: Enviva claim of ‘being good for the planet… all nonsense’

By Justin Catanoso 12/05/22
The operator of a Tigercat tractor used its claw-like arm to skillfully scoop up what just days before had been a sizable old oak, as the clear-cut of a thickly wooded 52-acre (21-hectare) site in…
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United Airlines Commits Up to $37.5 Million to Biofuel Refinery

By Gregory Polek 11/15/22
United Airlines’ venture capital unit said on Tuesday it will invest as much as $37.5 million in the development of the largest clean fuel production facility, making it the first U.S. airline to commit to…
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Growing scale, Inflation Reduction Act subsidies could push green hydrogen prices negative: RE+ panel

By Emma Penrod 09/27/22
With industry efforts already targeting $2/kg hydrogen by 2030, the $3/kg hydrogen subsidy contained in the Inflation Reduction Act could push green hydrogen prices into negative territory in some regions — and render it nearly…
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National Grid RFI finds ample renewable gas, green hydrogen available in New York, Massachusetts

By Robert Walton 08/16/22
National Grid on Tuesday announced it had located “robust stocks” of renewable natural gas and green hydrogen via a recent request for information, enough to meet its needs in New York and Massachusetts through 2025.…
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Hydrogen blends higher than 5% raise leak, embrittlement risks for natural gas pipelines: California PUC

By Larry Pearl 07/22/22
Blending more than 5% hydrogen into existing natural gas pipelines raises the chance of leaks and the embrittlement of steel pipelines, the California Public Utilities Commission said Thursday.
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Green hydrogen prices have nearly tripled as energy costs climb: S&P

By Emma Penrod 07/21/22
The cost of electrolytic hydrogen from renewable energy spiked as high as $16.80/kg in late July, three times recent price norms, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights.
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Hydrogen will miss the mark – study

Based on hydrogen’s current and forecasted uptake, it will have a 0.5% slice of the global energy mix in 2030 and 5% in 2050 – just one-third of what is necessary for net zero –…
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The giant hangar poised for an aviation revolution

By Mark Piesing 06/22/22
Sergey Brin turned internet search into one of the world’s most valuable businesses more than two decades ago. Now he intends to improve a technology which had its heyday long before he was born. Brin…
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DOE closes on $504M loan guarantee for Utah hydrogen storage project with 150 GWh seasonal capacity

By Ethan Howland 06/09/22
The U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday it has closed on a $504.4 million loan guarantee for a “green” hydrogen storage project in Utah that will initially be able to store up to 150 GWh…
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Is Biogas a “Green” Energy Source?

Biogas has gained popularity in recent years as a “greener” fuel. This is the methane created when anaerobic digestion breaks down organic matter, like in landfills or “digesters” that convert animal manure or food waste,…

What is biogas?

Biogas is an environmentally-friendly, renewable energy source produced by the breakdown of organic matter such as food scraps and animal waste. Find out how biogas is produced and and how it can be used to…

Biofuel Basics

Unlike other renewable energy sources, biomass can be converted directly into liquid fuels, called "biofuels," to help meet transportation fuel needs. The two most common types of biofuels in use today are ethanol and biodiesel,…

H2Success: Research and Development to Advance a Clean Hydrogen Future

Opening Statements Chairman Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) of the Subcommittee on Energy <../../../download/chair-bowman-os-hydrogen-randd> Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) <../../../download/chairwoman-johnson-os-hydrogen-randd> Witnesses

The difference between gray, blue, and green hydrogen

Hydrogen fuel burns clean, so it has potential as a low-carbon energy source — depending on how it’s made. Today, most hydrogen is known as “gray”hydrogen. It’s derived from natural gas using an energy-intensive process…

U.S. Department Of Energy Announces $28 Million To Develop Clean Hydrogen

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management (FECM) announced $28 million in federal funding for research and development (R&D) and front-end engineering design (FEED) projects that will advance…

EIA releases plant-level U.S. biofuels production capacity data

As of January 1, 2021, total U.S. biofuels plant production capacity reached 21 billion gallons per year (gal/y) (or 1.3 million barrels per day [b/d]), as reported by 278 facilities. Fuel ethanol producers accounted for…

New Maps of Above Ground Biomass Is Set to Help Our Understanding of Global Carbon Cycling

Fluctuations in the carbon-rich biomass held within the world’s forests can contribute to, or slow, climate change. A series of new maps of above ground biomass, generated using space observations, is set to help our…

Towards Fossil-Free Energy in 2050 Report

Paris-compatible climate ambition = Net Zero Emissions in Europe by 2050. It leaves no space for unabated emissions.

The Future of Hydrogen

At the request of the government of Japan under its G20 presidency, the International Energy Agency produced this landmark report to analyse the current state of play for hydrogen and to offer guidance on its…

A Clean Planet for all

Climate change is a serious concern for Europeans. The current changes in our planet's climate are redrawing the world and magnifying the risks for instability in all forms. The last two decades included 18 of…

The hydrogen solution?

A new star has exploded back onto the climate scene: hydrogen. It offers possibilities to move away from fossil fuels, but it brings its own challenges.

How Biodiesel Works

Of course, nothing is without penalty, and biodiesel does have its drawbacks. Some have to do with the fuel itself, and many have to do with the bigger picture.

Ocean Power

Wave- and tidal-energy systems harness natural oceanic flows—among the most powerful and constant dynamics on earth—to generate electricity. A variety of companies, utilities, universities, and governments are working to realize the promise of consistent and…

Producing industrial hydrogen from renewable energy

The vast majority of this industrial hydrogen is produced from coal gasification or steam methane reforming (SMR), both of which need a lot of energy and generate significant carbon dioxide emissions. A much smaller proportion…

Renewable Energy 101: How Does Biomass Energy Work?

The great thing about biomass energy (or simply “bioenergy”) is that its sources are plant and animal waste. So not only does biomass energy divert this organic matter from the waste stream — it turns…

Biomass Energy Basics

Biomass has been in use since people first began burning wood to cook food and keep warm. Wood is still the largest biomass energy resource today. Other sources include food crops, grassy and woody plants,…

Biomass explained

Biomass contains stored energy from the sun. Plants absorb the sun's energy in a process called photosynthesis. When biomass is burned, the chemical energy in biomass is released as heat. Biomass can be burned directly…

Wave and Tidal Energy

Wave and tidal energy harvesting has been around for a few decades. But it has only been in recent years that it has started to become more realistic due to advance in research and technology.…

Wave & Tidal Energy Technology

Wave, tidal and ocean energy technologies are just beginning to reach viability as potential commercial power sources. While just a few small projects currently exist, the technology is advancing rapidly and has huge potential for…

Renewable energy, explained

In any discussion about climate change, renewable energy usually tops the list of changes the world can implement to stave off the worst effects of rising temperatures. That's because renewable energy sources such as solar…

Hydrogen explained

To produce hydrogen, it must be separated from the other elements in the molecules where it occurs. Hydrogen atoms can be separated from water; from hydrocarbons in coal, petroleum, and natural gas; and from biomass.


Fuel of the Future: How the World Can Build a True Hydrogen Economy

By Vimal Kapur   06/09/22  
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the Department of Energy has initiatives that will spur significant investment in the hydrogen economy—efforts boosted by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted last year, which features $8 billion for Hydrogen Hubs…
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DOE aims to decarbonize heavy industry with $8B hydrogen hub project

By Emma Penrod   06/07/22  
The Department of Energy outlined its high-level vision for the creation of a series of “hydrogen hubs,” which will receive a total of $8 billion over five years through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, in a…
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This tiny Utah town could shape the West’s energy future

By Sammy Roth   05/19/22  
Five days into our Western energy road trip, photographer Rob Gauthier and I drove late into the night across Utah, following the setting sun as it bathed the red-rock cliffs and snow-starved Wasatch Mountains in…
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Europe Rethinks Its Reliance on Burning Wood for Electricity

By Lois Parshley   05/17/22  
A controversial European Union policy called the Renewable Energy Directive drove this transition by counting biomass — organic material like wood, burned as fuel — as renewable energy and subsidizing its use. A trans-Atlantic industry…
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Cornell joins hydrogen fuel hub consortium in New York

By Alicia Moore   04/26/22  
The university and two of its research startups are taking part in an effort to propose the clean energy facility.Cornell as well as two of its research startups have announced that they are joining a…
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Is hydrogen a climate savior or a disaster? Cutting through the hype

By Sammy Roth   03/24/22  
As I admired the beach views from Scattergood Generating Station — a sprawling mess of electrical wires, gas-fired generators and towering red-and-white smokestacks — I couldn’t stop thinking about how this power plant could never…
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Green Hydrogen International Announces Hydrogen City, Texas – The World’s Largest Green Hydrogen Production and Storage Hub

Hydrogen City, Texas will be an integrated green hydrogen production, storage, and transport hub growing to 60GW in size and producing over 2.5 billion kilograms of green hydrogen per year. The project is centered around…
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Hydrogen generation could become a $1 trillion per year market, Goldman Sachs says

By Anmar Frangoul   02/24/22  
Hydrogen has an important role to play in any transition to net-zero and its generation could develop into a market worth over $1 trillion a year, according to Goldman Sachs.
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How Diesel Giant Cummins Might Beat Tesla In The Green Engine Battle

By Alan Ohnsman   02/23/22  
Cummins Inc.’s stylish, cantilevered steel-and-glass office tower in Indianapolis looks more like the headquarters of a tech company than a business that lives on diesel fumes. The incongruity continues in Columbus, Indiana, where Cummins was…
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How Corn Ethanol for Biofuel Fed Climate Change

By Virginia Gewin   02/14/22  
The U.S. is the world leader in biofuel production—generating 47 percent of global output over the last decade. The ten-fold expansion in ethanol production in the U.S. from 2002 to 2019 has been driven by…
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Hydrogen-Fueled Planes Could Meet One-Third of Air Travel Demands by 2050

By Sami Grover   02/04/22  
As an Englishman living in the U.S., I was pleased to see Google Flights start to list relative emissions next to every single itinerary. After all, while there is much power in refusing to fly…
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Hydrogen is a false climate solution

By Mario Atencio   01/16/22  
Indigenous communities in New Mexico have long dealt with the negative impacts of experimental energy projects promoted by state and federal governments. This legislative session, as the state faces a climate crisis that is already…
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The world is addicted to natural gas. Fossil fuel companies are lobbying hard to keep it that way

By Angela Dewan   12/23/21  
Imagine a world entirely free of fossil fuels. That's no longer such an abstract concept, as most of the everyday things we do can be powered by electricity -- driving a car, heating a home,…
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Why Hydrogen Will Likely Be The Gateway To Net-Zero

By Ken Silverstein   12/08/21  
When Plug Power Inc. hosted its grand opening of a fuel cell and electrolyzer manufacturing plant in Rochester, N.Y this year, it explicitly said that hydrogen produced from clean energy would be the next big…
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The Millions of Tons of Carbon Emissions That Don’t Officially Exist

By Sarah Miller   12/08/21  
In the North of England, in a tiny village called Drax, there is a power plant, also called Drax. The name is ominous: the sad honk of a mistake, ending in a hazardous-chemical “X.”
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Europe burns a controversial ‘renewable’ energy source: trees from the U.S.

By Sarah Gibbens   11/11/21  
As world leaders pledge more action on climate change, one so-called solution—burning trees for electricity—could undermine progress.
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What you need to know about hydrogen – cure-all, or just another wild wish?

By SueEllen Campbell   11/05/21  
You’ve likely heard about the potential for hydrogen to provide renewable, carbon-free energy. But how realistic are the possibilities? Where are things now on developing, or avoiding, them? Is it a panacea or a boondoggle,…
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‘No commercial case for green hydrogen’ yet: Siemens Energy CEO

By Anmar Frangoul   10/20/21  
The CEO of Siemens Energy has spoken of the challenges facing the green hydrogen sector, telling CNBC that there was “no commercial case” for it at this moment in time. In comments made during a…
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Green growth for the Gulf

By Julian Spector   10/20/21  
An energy transition will make more friends if it brings workers along rather than leaving them behind. That doesn’t always happen, for instance, in a shift from coal power to solar plants. But sometimes experts…
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DOE commits $20M to create clean hydrogen from nuclear power with Palo Verde project

By Scott Van Voorhis   10/12/21  
The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday unveiled plans to spend $20 million on research into the production of clean hydrogen from nuclear power. The money will help pay for a demonstration project by PNW…
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Green Hydrogen’s Rapidly Falling Costs Undermine the Gas Industry’s Argument for Blue Hydrogen

By Justin Mikulka   09/30/21  
New research predicts that green hydrogen — a clean fuel produced from water using renewables — will be comparable in cost and likely cheaper than blue hydrogen by 2030. This is much sooner than what the blue…
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Fossil Fuel Companies Say Hydrogen Made From Natural Gas Is a Climate Solution. But the Tech May Not Be Very Green

By Alejandro de la Garza   09/22/21  
As a committee of climate scientists and environmental officials deliberated over how to drastically cut New York State’s carbon footprint last summer, natural gas industry representatives were putting forward a counterintuitive pitch: hydrogen, made from…
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Largest U.S. biofuels producer pledges carbon neutrality by 2050

By Stephanie Kelly   09/16/21  
 POET, the largest biofuels producer in the United States, said on Wednesday it is committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions at its bioprocessing facilities by 2050, making it the latest company to pledge to reduce…
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Is Hydrogen A Climate Silver Bullet, Or Fossil Fuel Industry Spin?

By David Vetter   09/02/21  
When it comes to cutting carbon emissions, where does hydrogen belong? The gas, which releases no greenhouse gases when burned for energy, has been touted as a promising route by which countries can achieve their…
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Blue Hydrogen Study Finds It Isn’t Climate-Friendly, Igniting Fierce Debate Over Emissions

By Eduardo Garcia   08/20/21  
Blue hydrogen, a purportedly green fuel that is typically extracted from natural gas, has long been touted as a climate solution but a controversial peer-reviewed study released last week argues its production is linked to…
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Sweden’s HYBRIT Delivers Fossil-Free Steel

By Lloyd Alter   08/20/21  
The making of steel releases a lot of carbon dioxide. It's chemistry; iron ore is basically rust, also known as iron oxide. You get rid of the oxygen by mixing in pulverized coal; the carbon…
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Will hydrogen usher in a new era of collaboration between gas and electric utilities?

By Emma Penrod   08/19/21  
Nestled amid the rolling hills and rivers of the Pacific Northwest, the Eugene Water & Electric Board (EWEB) has the sort of problem many U.S. utilities still dream of: too much renewable energy.
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‘Blue’ Hydrogen May Not Be a Very ‘Green’ Energy Source After All

By David Kindy   08/17/21  
Hydrogen is often viewed as the fuel of the future. Scientists initally predicted it will be clean, renewable and efficient. Making it work, though, might be a problem. Some of the current technologies, including a…
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Is California’s ‘Hydrogen Highway’ a road to nowhere?

By Evan Halper   08/10/21  
Soon after Maribel Munoz joined the trailblazing ranks of American owners of hydrogen cars — a group that exists only in California — she began to fear that the low price of the taxpayer-subsidized Toyota…
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Entergy touts hydrogen as tool to meet industrial customers’ green goals

By Jason Plautz   08/06/21  
Entergy Corporation touted its steps to help its commercial and industrial customers meet their sustainability goals in its second quarter earnings call on Wednesday, including plans for a new natural gas and hydrogen facility in Texas and…
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Hydrogen pilot projects advance, evolve at gas utilities

By Tom DiChristopher   08/06/21  
Gas utilities continue to advance hydrogen pilot projects as the industry focuses on long-term solutions for decarbonizing pipeline networks. Local distribution companies offered updates on their programs during a packed day of quarterly earnings conference…
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New Bipartisan Energy Storage Caucus Has Green Hydrogen Up Its Sleeve

By Tina Casey   08/05/21  
U.S. Representative Mark Takano (D-CA) launched the first bipartisan “Energy Storage Caucus” in Congress in 2019, with a strong focus on battery-type technology. That iteration of the caucus seems to have sputtered out, but now…
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EXCLUSIVE White House delays biofuel mandates due to political concerns -sources

By Stephanie Kelly and Jarrett Renshaw   07/21/21  
 The White House has delayed an annual process meant to decide how much ethanol and other biofuels U.S. oil refiners need to blend into their fuel each year, as it seeks a solution for an…
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New York to test green hydrogen at Long Island power plant

By Scott Van Voorhis   07/12/21  
The New York Power Authority is gearing up to launch a green hydrogen demonstration project at its gas-fired power plant on Long Island.
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How marginalized communities in the South are paying the price for ‘green energy’ in Europe

By Majlie de Puy Kamp   07/09/21  
Andrea Macklin never turns off his TV. It’s the only way to drown out the noise from the wood mill bordering his backyard, the jackhammer sound of the plant piercing his walls and windows. The…
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United Airlines aims to suck carbon dioxide from the friendly skies

By Steven Mufson   06/25/21  
United Airlines is investing in a venture that doesn’t make airplanes, transport passengers or ring up frequent-flier miles on the company’s credit cards. And even as it posts losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, United is providing…
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EU eyes tighter rules for ‘renewable’ biomass energy – draft

By Kate Abnett   06/17/21  
The European Union is considering tightening rules on whether wood-burning energy can be classed as renewable and count towards green goals, according to a draft document seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
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Everything but the (forest) sink

By Philippa Nuttall Jones   06/16/21  
The EU has led the way in including the burning of “sustainable” wood in renewable energy goals. However, as global emissions fail to drop, the window for climate action narrows, and natural habitats and species…
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U.S. seeks less costly clean hydrogen in climate fight

By Kevin Lamarque   06/08/21  
The Biden administration on Monday set a goal of reducing the cost of producing clean hydrogen, a fuel that could reduce dependence on others that emit greenhouse gases that cause climate change. The Department of…
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California coalition aims to make hydrogen power cost-competitive by 2028

By Emma Penrod   05/17/21  
HyDeal Los Angeles, a green hydrogen initiative launched in Los Angeles on Monday, aims to bring the cost of hydrogen fuel to $1.50/kg by 2028. At that price, electricity from hydrogen-fired turbines would run about…
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Hype and hydrogen starting with the same letters isn’t a coincidence

By Michael Barnard   05/08/21  
There’s been a recent emergence of the ‘hydrogen economy’ nonsense globally. Governments globally have been creating roadmaps and budgets. Lobbyists from legacy energy businesses have been all over politicians and the media, trying to get…
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Using hydrogen fuel risks locking in reliance on fossil fuels, researchers warn

By Damian Carrington   05/06/21  
Using hydrogen-based fuels for cars and home heating risks locking in a dependency on fossil fuels and failing to tackle the climate crisis, according to a new analysis. Fuels produced from hydrogen can be used…
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Green Hydrogen Is Bubbling with Hype—Again

It’s lighter than air, more common than carbon, and burns with a bang into a puff of pure water vapor. Some see it as an essential element in decarbonizing electricity, transportation, and even steelmaking. Hydrogen…
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The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet

By Michael Grunwald   03/26/21  
Here’s a multibillion-dollar question that could help determine the fate of the global climate: If a tree falls in a forest—and then it’s driven to a mill, where it’s chopped and chipped and compressed into…
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Exxon Mobil to invest $3 billion in carbon capture and other projects to lower emissions.

Michael J. de la Merced   02/01/21  
Exxon Mobil, which has long been criticized by environmentalists and some investors and elected leaders for not doing enough to curb climate change, said on Monday it would invest $3 billion over the next five…
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To Counter Climate Change, We Need to Stop Burning Things

By Bill McKibben   01/22/21  
If one wanted a basic rule of thumb for dealing with the climate crisis, it would be: stop burning things. Human beings have made use of combustion for a very long time, ever since the…
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United Airlines aims to suck carbon dioxide from the friendly skies

By Steven Mufson   01/12/21  
United Airlines is investing in a venture that doesn’t make airplanes, transport passengers or ring up frequent-flier miles on the company’s credit cards. And even as it posts losses stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, United is providing…
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Why We Need Green Hydrogen

By Renee Cho   01/07/21  
Green hydrogen has been in the news often lately. President-elect Biden has promised to use renewable energy to produce green hydrogen that costs less than natural gas.
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The Gospel of Hydrogen Power

By Roy Furchgott   12/28/20  
In December, the California Fuel Cell Partnership tallied 8,890 electric cars and 48 electric buses running on hydrogen batteries, which are refillable in minutes at any of 42 stations there. On the East Coast, the…
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S&P: Hydrogen offers opportunity for energy transition, but economics remain difficult before 2030

By Emma Penrod   11/30/20  
Economic viability for green hydrogen would require a 50% decrease in renewable energy costs, and a 30-50% reduction in the cost of electrolysis — declines within the realm of possibility, but likely not before 2030,…
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