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Of Hydrogen and Pipelines

Canada is looking for experts to help it figure out how to blend hydrogen into existing natural gas infrastructure, a move that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has suggested may be key to bolstering Canadian energy exports to Europe, according to POLITICO Pro (subscription).

What’s going on: This week, Natural Resources Canada requested proposals to fill the “knowledge gaps on the extent to which existing (and potential new) infrastructure for natural gas systems could be leveraged to support and transport blended hydrogen,” according to the government notice.  

  • The Canadian efforts “will include planning and developing new infrastructure to support early development of the energy source,” according to POLITICO.
  • Several Canadian jurisdictions and other locations worldwide have started pilot programs to blend hydrogen into existing natural gas setups.

Why it matters: The U.S. and Canada are under increasing pressure from allies to provide Europe with energy and help it end its reliance on Russia.

  • However … “while Canada is one of the world’s biggest natural gas producers, the country lacks infrastructure to ship natural gas from its east coast.”
  • The new research effort, which will include an examination of potential U.S. markets for hydrogen blending, will look into the regulations and codes that must be satisfied to begin such a project.

In related news: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said this week that to speed progress, the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should help oversee and streamline any hydrogen-pipeline construction, according to Bloomberg Government (subscription).

  • “‘I’ve certainly had my fair share with FERC over natural gas issues recently,’ Sen. Manchin said Tuesday. ‘Still, it’s clear to me that the commission’s natural gas siting authority helps avoid challenges that we see again and again in developing other types of energy infrastructure.’”
  • Sen. Manchin added that “for wide-scale deployment of hydrogen as a fuel source, transportation and delivery infrastructure must be developed. Today, there are limited options for commercial transportation of hydrogen.”
  • The U.S. hydrogen pipeline network is approximately 1,600 miles. By contrast, its natural gas pipelines extend roughly 300,000 miles.

Bottom line: “The dynamic capabilities and uses of hydrogen have the potential to significantly decarbonize manufacturers and other industries,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Chris Morris. “So, we must continue to make robust investments to ensure the safety, efficiency and deployment of hydrogen infrastructure.”

  • “Through the NAM-supported infrastructure bill, the U.S. is about to begin a roughly $9 billion investment in hydrogen projects around the country. It is helpful to see what our allies are doing in terms of hydrogen infrastructure and creative ways to leverage existing resources.”
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