Renewable Energy SmartPod

The Growth of Green Hydrogen

August 17, 2021 Season 1 Episode 11
The Growth of Green Hydrogen
Renewable Energy SmartPod
More Info
Renewable Energy SmartPod
The Growth of Green Hydrogen
Aug 17, 2021 Season 1 Episode 11

Green hydrogen's potential to transform energy markets is immense. With the growth of renewables inspiring greater interest in use cases for green hydrogen, Michael Ducker from Mitsubishi Power joins the podcast to outline the state of the green hydrogen market and how it is poised to grow. Ducker explains how green hydrogen differs from other "colors" of hydrogen and also details how the long duration energy storage capabilities of projects like Mitsubishi's Advanced Clean Energy Storage site in Utah can play a key role in alleviating seasonal energy shortages in the western United States.

More resources:

Green hydrogen and the transportation sector

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
MHI - Move The World Forward.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Sign up for the Renewable Energy SmartBrief

Follow the show on Twitter @RenewablesPod

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Green hydrogen's potential to transform energy markets is immense. With the growth of renewables inspiring greater interest in use cases for green hydrogen, Michael Ducker from Mitsubishi Power joins the podcast to outline the state of the green hydrogen market and how it is poised to grow. Ducker explains how green hydrogen differs from other "colors" of hydrogen and also details how the long duration energy storage capabilities of projects like Mitsubishi's Advanced Clean Energy Storage site in Utah can play a key role in alleviating seasonal energy shortages in the western United States.

More resources:

Green hydrogen and the transportation sector

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
MHI - Move The World Forward.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.

Sign up for the Renewable Energy SmartBrief

Follow the show on Twitter @RenewablesPod

(Note: this transcript was created using artificial intelligence. It has not bee fully edited.)

Sean McMahon  00:08

What's up everyone and welcome to the Renewable Energy SmartPod. I'm your host Sean McMahon, and my guest today is Michael Ducker from Mitsubishi. Michael is an expert on green hydrogen, and green hydrogen is certainly enjoying a bit of a moment in renewables news circles, so we're gonna be hearing his insights on developments in that sector. And along the way, we even take a few minutes to geek out about a key component of the green hydrogen storage system. Salt caverns. Yes, salt caverns. Salt caverns the size of the Empire State Building. 


Looking ahead to future episodes of this podcast, I'll be chatting with Janice Lin of the Green Hydrogen Coalition. That's right, we're going with back-to-back episodes about green hydrogen to help you gain a deeper understanding about how green hydrogen fits into the energy transition. 


Also on the calendar, Michael Rucker. Michael is the founder and CEO of Scout Clean Energy and he'll be joining us in a few weeks to share his insider look at how the renewables industry continues to evolve. 


So that's a look at what's coming up on future episodes. But before I kick off my conversation with Michael Ducker, I'd like to share a quick message from the exclusive sponsor of today's episode, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.


Advertisement  01:21

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is one of the world's largest industrial groups, delivering innovative and integrated solutions across a wide range of industries, incorporating land, sea, sky and space. MHI – Move the World Forward.


Sean McMahon  01:44

Thank you very much, everyone for joining me today. Our guest is Michael Ducker from Mitsubishi. Michael, how you doing today? 


Michael Ducker  01:51

Good Sean, how about yourself?


Sean McMahon  01:51

I'm doing great. So we're here today to talk about green hydrogen. But before we get into that, I just want to hear more about your background and what your role is at Mitsubishi.


Michael Ducker  02:00

Sure. So I'm Michael Ducker, Vice President Renewable Fuels for Mitsubishi Power, effectively overseeing our efforts here and providing carbon free fuels and energy storage for the power industry.


Sean McMahon  02:11

Alright, so a lot of our listeners might not be that familiar with hydrogen, or the various colors that are used to describe the different ways hydrogen is produced. So can you just walk us through the various colors, you know, green, blue, gray, etc. and explain how they all differ?


Michael Ducker  02:27

Sure, so for an actual colorless gas, it sure does have a lot of color nicknames. As you say, we've got blue, green, gray, brown, turquoise, you're ultimately at the end of the day, the colors are really generally intended to designate the process by which the hydrogen is made. So for instance, gray hydrogen is commonly referred to in as the traditional method of how we have hydrogen produced today. This is a process of taking natural gas and converting it to hydrogen through a process known as steam methane reforming. But this produces CO2 - carbon dioxide. And so as we have looked at different uses for hydrogen, this is where some of the colors have evolved. So in this case, if we actually capture the co2, in the process that I just referenced, that's often referred to as blue hydrogen. And then conversely, we have cases where we talk about green hydrogen, which is really looking at taking renewable energy or non fossil fuel resources, through a process known as electrolysis, which converts water uses electricity convert water into hydrogen and oxygen. And that is where we can produce hydrogen that way. But you know, really, at the end of the day, all these different colors really are just again, trying to target the the process by which hydrogen is made, I think, for us, our focus on is on really trying to derive carbon free forms of hydrogen. And so whether that's through co2 capture or using renewable energy, all those are different exciting ways to produce hydrogen, and of course, have million packs from a carbon emission standpoint.


Sean McMahon  03:58

Okay, great. And I definitely want to talk about Intermountain. But before we get to that, I want to kind of take our listeners through, you know, the role of electrolyzers here, first of all, what they do, where they’re at, what needs to be improved, how much bigger they got to get and things like that. So just give us a quick recap on the roller electrolyzers play in this process?


Michael Ducker  04:14

Yes, sure. Electrolyzers are really a technology that we take water and electricity. And we apply a current within this technology, we decompose water into its elemental forms of hydrogen and oxygen, as I mentioned, it actually dates back to 1940. So we're approaching the century where we've had applications and uses of electrolyzers. that technology is not new itself and the in electrolysis has been around even prior to that. So what's really changed today is that we're now seeing the need to use electrolyzers to effectively support the conversion of renewable energy into hydrogen and whether that is being used for fuel hours. Applications during the transportation sector, or in the power side, like a discus where we're actually over producing what I do this excess energy, and I want to run it through an electrolyzer to be able to effectively convert electricity in the form of storable energy, that being hydrogen.


Sean McMahon  05:16

Alright, now anyone out there who follows the energy industry knows that there's been a lot of headlines about green hydrogen. So what is the promise of it and the potential of it, and where do things stand right now?


Michael Ducker  05:26

So yes, as you said, there, there certainly has been a huge momentum and groundswell early in the past year and a half, two years around hydrogen. And I think even stepping back, I've been in industry for some time, and those that have been in industry some time to know, early 2000s, we were talking a lot about hydrogen the hydrogen economy was just upon us, but it never came to fruition. And why is that? Well, the market signals back in early 2000s are fundamentally different than they are today. 


Today we have unprecedented amount of renewable energy that is installed on a grid at low costs. We have state and local governments, we've got utilities that are committing to carbon free targets within the next several decades. And they're making significant investments to achieve those goals. And so all this comes together into what is the most cost effective and reliable way to meet these carbon free goals? And what are the technologies out there. And that's really why there's the promise and excitement around hydrogen today, is these very tangible commitments that are being made by policymakers by an industries may even go back to the ultimate end users. 


Today, we've got some of the biggest corporations that are saying that no more wide by any energy, that it doesn't come in a carbon free fashion. And so this is what's really created that need for hydrogen. And I'm sure we'll talk a little bit more about the use cases for hydrogen is not always necessarily just as a what I would call a fuel for the power sector. We actually really see this as a form of energy storage that works in concert with other storage technologies like lithium-ion batteries to more reliably and cost effectively integrate wide scale renewables. 


Sean McMahon  07:05

Yeah, let's talk a little bit more about that. So the energy storage piece of it, and he mentioned, it's it kind of coexist right now with lithium ion or might even compete in some places. So what role does energy storage having this and how does green hydrogen fit into the energy transition?


Michael Ducker  07:20

Yes, I think one of most important things to recognize that that green hydrogen as a storage medium, and lithium ion batteries do not compete. They work in concert with each other, solving different use cases and both technologies are going to be incredibly important in a future where we're looking at wide scale deployment of renewables and again, a need for reliable affordable energy on the power grid. So Mitsubishi offers both solutions. And we talk with our customers a lot of times about this. So what is their use case application? What are they trying to solve? And we're looking at that intra daily energy imbalances, where we've got, you know, the proverbial the sun, is up the middle of day, we've got great solar resources, the sun comes down. At the end of the day, what do we do as people are coming home from work? That's a great use case for batteries, you were charging in middle of day where we're peaking. And late in the day, lithium ion batteries can help to close that gap between demand and supply. 


Hydrogen works a little differently in the sense of what happens when we have sustained periods of overproduction. For instance, in the spring months, where we've got an overproduction of renewables consistently, we've got, say the spring melt, that's also supporting hydrogen, hydro power. And how do we transition that to periods of gluts, say deep in the summer, like we've been seeing here recently, where we don't have enough power during those periods of time. 


So that's where hydrogen plays a more fundamental role is this longer duration, more seasonal balancing, it's becoming more and more important, as we have larger and larger penetrations of renewables. So in short, again, batteries and hydrogen are working in concert with each other, but two very different use cases that are helping us meet those overall targets like we've talked about.


Sean McMahon  09:03

So where's that cut off in terms of you know, use cases or working in concert is it just certain amount of hours? I mean, obviously said intraday for, for lithium ion. So yeah, what point where's the where do they meet in the middle? I guess.


Michael Ducker  09:14

It really is. We see more as an intra daily, intra daily energy arbitrage. That's where lithium-ion batteries are most used and have their best use case. And those longer seasonal differences, particularly again, as we look at even in California, a great scenario here is that last year, and even this year, we've been curtailing record amounts of renewables in the wintertime in the springtime, and yet last year in 2020, we had a first rolling blackouts in California in over two decades in August. So we're curtailing energy and January, February, March, April, and we've got deficits in July, August, September. So we already see that use case today in lithium-ion batteries can't solve that problem. Shifting from month-to-month, or season-to-season, this is where hydrogen really has the bigger play in the intra daily, weekly seasonal type of impact.


Sean McMahon  10:09

So how far away are we from a point where hydrogen could provide that backup? The longer term backup for those seasonal needs? Whether it's like you said, their drought or even through cold things like that. And, you know, again, How far away are we in? What challenges stand in the way?


Michael Ducker  10:26

Well, I'd say we're there today already. And again, the use case I just talked about, or the application is what we've seen in California. And we hear the same from customers in the Pacific Northwest, who also have concerns about as we're continuing to retire, traditional forms of energy that provided those backup capabilities, what am I going to do in those periods of time and say the summer fall, if I don't have adequate renewables available during those periods of time, and we're seeing those use cases again, starting to come out actually today. And working with customers in these regions, it really is a function to of where we're at on the amount of renewables installed. 


Of course, out West, we do see significant amount of renewables installed today. And we see the market signals already materializing today. But also in other parts of the country. We see utilities and different states that are setting targets within the next 1020 years to be carbon free. And so for them to cost effectively meet those goals. We've got to start installing infrastructure today. We can't wait.


Sean McMahon  11:26

Yeah, I guess that's what I was getting at when I said, How far away are we? I mean, I know the use cases there and the need is there like California and things like that. But we're still having energy scenarios, whether it's in Texas or California, anywhere where we have problems. So how far away are we from where hydrogen or other assets are being deployed so blackouts just hopefully become a thing of the past? I guess that's what I'm asking, what's standing in the way of ever hitting that point?


Michael Ducker  11:49

Yeah. So I think there's, there's a number of items that that create challenges. And I guess the great news is they're all solvable. So ultimately, these are not technology problems that we're dealing with. If we look at hydrogen, we've been using hydrogen electrolysis for almost a century. Now, we've been storing hydrogen and salt caverns using an pipelines since the 80s. And we have widescale good understanding of using hydrogen within even our gas turbines to convert that stored energy back to usable electrical. 


So all these technical challenges are already there, it really becomes more of a policy matter, and how are we trying to meet these goals. And so if we just stay, you know, 2040, I want carbon free energy by that point time, but we don't take tangible steps today to start solving. That's what's creating some of these challenges and mismatches of energy. 


So what we are excited about right now is that many of our customers are starting to make those tangible investments today. And a great use case or point is the the project over in Delta, Utah, the Intermountain power plant, which has already purchased hydrogen capable gas turbines, and in 2025, will be committed to using a blend of 30% hydrogen and 70% natural gas to meet this exact use case have been talking about here today.


Sean McMahon  13:08

Okay, and so then, from a cost perspective, what role does that play? And then I mean, just bigger picture, where are we in the cost curve for green hydrogen, as opposed to, you know, other sources of energy.


Michael Ducker  13:18

So really, what we're focused on right now is scale. And again, I've said many, many times here that the technology is not the challenge, it's really about getting cost down. And costs are a function of scale. And scale is also a function on market needs. So we've got all of this coming together right now. But when we look at how to get more hydrogen technologies into the market, and more electrolyzers in the market, it really is a function of achieving more scale. 


So how do we make systems bigger? How do we automate processes better, those are all important. And we're really just starting to scratch the surface. Because from a global standpoint, total hydrogen production from electrolysis, accounted for about 3% last year. And so the amount of current uses for hydrogen, where we could apply electrolysis technologies, again, we're just scratching the surface. And now we talk about use cases in the power industry and other fuel sectors. It really is about a commitment to scale. And so as we see policies, and we see commitments from end users, that is going to also help drive scale. And that's also a part that Mitsubishi has been working on to help drive scale within the electrolysis supply chain.


Sean McMahon  14:24

Right, and then which industries stand to benefit the most, if we reach a point where green hydrogen is, you know, widely adopted, which, who's ahead of the game and is going to benefit the most.


Michael Ducker  14:35

Ultimately, every industry will and I think what's really, I think, been the coolest part of my job lately is that hydrogen really is a catalyst to bring industries together. And so I am on the power side, but I've had more conversations with transportation companies with oil companies with chemicals companies in the past year and a half and I have my entire career. And the reason being is because if I have an application for hydrogen in the power sector, I can create tremendous scale. And when we're talking about 100 to 200 tons per day type of demand, if we have a power plant just running at a fraction of small percent of hydrogen. Compare that to the transportation sector, where typically they're looking at about maybe one to five tons a day type of demand for a fueling station. So how great is it then if I can take a transportation application and actually piggyback it off of a large scale power application? Now we have these synergies between industries. 


And so going back to say, who's going to benefit the most, I think it's more of a question of who's going to move first. And with the scale applications, we believe power is most prime to be the first mover, but that's going to naturally bring in some of these other industries, who can then benefit from the scale that power is bringing, and at the end of the day, that's the most exciting part is that this is a technology that's bringing multiple industries together to decarbonize at the same time, as opposed to trying to solve these problems discreetly and independently. We'll be right back.


Advertisement 16:06

At MHI, we’re driven by the needs of our partners and customers. We've grown into a truly global manufacturer bringing together the best international innovation through partnerships and joint ventures. We're expanding our low-carbon business portfolio with developments in cutting-edge wind turbine technologies, the delivery of sustainable hydrogen gas turbines, and light water reactors that emit low carbon baseload electricity and improvements in carbon cycle technologies. MHI - Move the World Forward.


Sean McMahon  16:46

And now back to my conversation with Michael Ducker from Mitsubishi. 


And you mentioned earlier what Mitsubishi is doing at Intermountain so kind of walk me through that. What's going on at that facility in Utah? And what's it doing now? And what's the plan for growth there?


Michael Ducker  17:00

So we've got actually two projects really in Delta, Utah. So first, we'll focus on the Intermountain Power Plant. And this is the world's first power plant that was intentionally designed to operate on green hydrogen. And what the Intermountain power agency is committed to is in 2025, to operate on a blend of 30% hydrogen 70% natural gas, and no later than 2045, they will convert to 100% hydrogen, the technology they are using there is Mitsubishi gas turbines that have that capability to run on a blend of hydrogen and natural gas. And also we can convert that unit over time to be able to run 100% green hydrogen. 


The other project we have in Delta, Utah, is our Advanced Clean Energy Storage project. So this was a joint venture between Mitsubishi and Magnum Development, where we've partnered to build the world's largest renewable energy storage hub, really creating a green hydrogen hub there in Delta, Utah. So here we're looking at gigawatt scale of electrolysis, and salt caverns, which are, as I mentioned earlier, able to safely and cost effectively store vast amounts of hydrogen. 


Just to quickly put that into perspective, one salt cavern can store roughly 150 gigawatt hours worth of equivalent energy, the entire United States right now, energy storage with lithium ion batteries, is about a gigawatt - two gigawatt hours. So we're talking nearly 150 times the entire United States installed base of batteries in one cavern. And by the way I can do about 100 caverns at that site. So we talked about scale and potential. It's, you know, it is quite vast. So those are the two very exciting projects we've got going on over in Delta, Utah.


Sean McMahon  18:45

Okay, I want to just kind of geek out a little bit on these caverns. So how big are these things we're talking about? I've done some research, and I'm seeing some like, I mean, it's big as the Empire State Building or something like that.


Michael Ducker  18:55

So that's correct. Yeah, they’re about 1500 feet tall. So yeah, just under about the Empire State Building from the size of the cavern. And again, if you put this in perspective, what's what's great with this storage capability is to this is all underground. So I mean, we're not talking about effectively building city size skyscrapers of batteries or other technologies. This is all underground. There's already well, first of all, there's 1000s of salt caverns across the globe, that hold different commodities, whether it be natural gas liquids, even helium. And hydrogen, again, has been used and stored here in these caverns. So it's a very well-known storage repository. It's a matter of here just applying it for a different use case than we have had before.


Sean McMahon  19:38

So you've got some as big as the Empire State Building, and you said you’ve got about 100 of them in Utah. Are they all they all that big?


Michael Ducker  19:44

We have the capability to, so actually, if we want to geek out a little bit more, right now we've got five caverns already what's known as solution mined. If you think about under the Earth in Delta, Utah, there, it's a big salt block. And so how do you create a cavern we actually engineer these caverns. So what I mean by that, we're drilling a hole in the ground, we're actually then pumping in water and water, dissolves salt. And that's how you actually create a void. And we're able to intentionally create this void, vertically, horizontally to certain specifications. We want to keep mechanical integrity of the cavern to make sure, you know, certain number of volume and amount of hydrogen we want to store within those caverns are achieved. 


At the end of the day, once we produce that cavern, we're just pumping out the water and pushing in hydrogen. So it's actually created intentionally by us under a very defined process.


Sean McMahon  20:40

Okay, thanks for that - just geeking out on that. Ii just, it just fascinates me. It blows me away. 


Michael Ducker  20:45

That's something you've got to go out to the site to see. I mean, it is incredible. See, we've already have a few brine ponds there that have, you know, effectively pulled out the the salt within the earth there. And, again, we've already got five caverns that are operating, that are storing other commodities besides hydrogen, but it is a sight to see.


Sean McMahon  21:03

Okay, circling back to what you mentioned about the blend the Mitsubishi gas turbines. Now you said it's 70-30 right now - is that right?


Michael Ducker  21:12

Correct. So that's at least what the Intermountain Power Agency has targeted here for the 2025 operations is a 70% natural gas 30% hydrogen,


Sean McMahon  21:20

And by 2040, 100% green hydrogen? 


Michael Ducker  




Sean McMahon  

Okay. So walk me through that process of the blend, you know, is the infrastructure throughout the United States, because obviously, what we found out a lot, even with just sources of renewables is that, you know, we don't have the transmission to get either from the generation source to the grid, or even move it around the grid. So where does the green hydrogen transmission or I guess, gas pipeline network - Where does the stand now? And how ready is it for that transition? And what needs to be done to kind of get there?


Michael Ducker  21:51

Sure. So you know, a couple of things to talk through there. So first of all, from a technology side, it's important to recognize that if we look at higher blends of hydrogen gas turbines today, it kind of goes back to what's the market need today. And at least right now, and 2025 2020. You know, we're saying almost in 2021 2022, we don't necessarily need gigawatts, and hundreds of gigawatt hours of storage today, but over time, we absolutely will. 


And so this is one of the biggest value propositions we have with the gas turbine infrastructure is I can over time, dial up the amount of hydrogen that is used in that turban, as more and more renewables come on to the grid. And as the needs to store more and more energy also evolve. And so it's a way to more cost effectively transition infrastructure over time. And again, this is really one of the biggest value propositions that our customers see what this is that going to install affordable, reliable energy today, but also, over time, convert that to be effectively 100% carbon free energy storage resource as my market needs evolve. So that's on the gas turbine technology side. 


As far as the renewables and the delivery side. This is a multi-decade strategy. And so it is really important as we look at policymakers, integrated resource planners, and how we're trying to solve these issues. You know, everyone likes to say, the more tools we have in the toolkit, the more effective we can be. And that is really what is required today is to start analyzing these different use cases here for hydrogen, both for power sector and non power sectors. And then how would I build infrastructure out over time, more efficiently, to be able to meet those needs as they're evolving over the next, you know, one to two decades.


Sean McMahon  23:33

Okay. And then I know, some policymakers are pondering more of these hydrogen hubs throughout the US at least. And so how many of those you think will need to just power current demand? I'm not gonna ask you to predict how much demand we're gonna have in 30 years and what but so in a perfect world, where you just, you know, blank slate everything, and we just decide to power everything with these hubs, how many would we need around the US?


Michael Ducker  23:53

So it does become a somewhat of combination between what distribution networks are out there from those hubs, and again, what size they need to be just to kind of focus least on Delta, Utah, which we expect to be the world's first true actual hydrogen hub. We are exactly working what you talked about more of the hub and spoke model. So how do we build out pipelines from that site to be able to provide cost effective storage and production within that area, but then also reach different parts of the Western US? Whether it be within the desert southwest or Pacific Northwest, in the interim to is there an opportunity for, say, liquefaction. And, you know, do we need to look at liquefying hydrogen and be able to send that out within the vicinity of at least Delta, Utah. So all of those aren't tabled right now. It's really again, a transition over time. 


I think we certainly expect to see many of these types of hubs throughout the US. And I think it will be a matter of how quickly the rest of the spoke model can also work within those hubs. And to the degree, we can have the much bigger spokes and the bigger pipeline networks, of course, then the less number of hubs, we would have necessarily need an extent we need more of these micro hubs, if you will, then that will be important.


Sean McMahon  25:06

Can I put you on the spot and ask you to guess when that time might be when when we are kind of set up to power everything through these hubs, you want to take a wild guess, editor, you got a, I guess, an educated guess at it?


Michael Ducker  25:16

Yes, I think, you know, we're looking at right now, you know, 2025 is our target in Delta, Utah, to start building that hub, and then you start getting the spoke aspect, it really is a function of policy and demand, but within that decade thereafter, I think is is truly achievable. And this is what we've been talking about with our customers is, how do I put together a plan that in the 2030s, we do have this type of network, where you can benefit from this interregional use of renewables in balancing of storage, and then also hydrogen production. And again, not just for the power sector, but for other sectors as well that are trying to decarbonize. So in the 2030s, is absolutely in line with where we're starting to see the opportunity to build out much more than just a very specific hub, but the actual distribution piece of it as well.


Sean McMahon  26:02

We're also talking a lot about kind of, you know, as we're building back from the pandemic, you know, building back better and building back greener. So where does Mitsubishi as an entity, and also this technology of green hydrogen, where do those fit into that effort?


Michael Ducker  26:16

So I think what we've seen firsthand is, no matter what this type of infrastructure energy is critical to human prosperity, and as we look at the evolving needs to, it's not just about energy, it's also how do I make sure it's clean and carbon free to support and mitigate the impacts of climate change. So Mitsubishi’s been making very significant investments in developing the supply chains in developing this infrastructure. And I go back to even again, just our investment there in Utah, this is really us working to develop the market. And I think the positive side of that is now we have some of these actual applications we can point to, as we look at, as you said, building back better of this isn't just big picture thinking, there's real investments that have been made. And now we can take the lessons learned from there, and we can look at those applications and build back even stronger and add more within there.


Sean McMahon  27:14

Okay, and I wanted to just circle back to one other thing about kind of how this hits, what consumers should be thinking about this, because I really feel like a lot of this is more of a, you know, a b2b conversation and how we're power and transportation and things like that. So, you know, if I'm a consumer, how will green hydrogen affect me the most.


Michael Ducker  27:31

So I do think, as a consumer right now, where we see the applications is truly is in the products you're buying, whether it be energy or from companies you're buying from you the analogy we give a lot here to is people are wondering, am I going to be drawing a hydrogen car. And I think what we see right now the opportunity for hydrogen in the transportation sector, is somewhat twofold is you've got the short duration, minimal uses, like passenger vehicles, those are probably a bit more adept for lithium ion batteries, the long haul trucking, the big, you know, class eight trucks that are going cross country 1000 mile trips, long duration needs, that's where hydrogen plays a perfect role. And it's completely analogous to the power industry, as we just said, for the short duration those more those sprints, lithium ion batteries is a much better, more cost effective choice. Those long duration and long hauls in the power sector, that's where hydrogen makes sense. So we still see that opportunity down on, you know, in these other sectors and data consumer side, where hydrogen batteries are going to continue to complement each other, just different use cases in those sectors as well.


Sean McMahon  28:40

Michael, give me your bold predictions on green hydrogen, and where we'll be, you know, in, say, 5, 10 20 years.


Michael Ducker  28:47

So I think the bold prediction is I mentioned earlier, we've already hit the tipping point. And I think there's a question of when's hydrogen really gonna come to fruition here? Is this all real? In the fact that matter is, yes, it is. And we're making those very tangible investments today. And within the next few years, we're going to see those investments start coming to fruition, and where we start seeing hydrogen really take off to sense that the everyday person will start to see it more. I think, certainly within this decade, too, we're going to continue to see significant, significantly more investments across the United States across other countries, such that we're having the same discussions around hydrogen and the value. It's bringing in the opportunities. It's bringing across multiple industries, just like we've seen with batteries relatively more recently, and just as we saw solar and wind roughly 1520 years ago, where that really took off. 


So the 2020s are absolutely going to be a very exciting decade for hydrogen, but more importantly for the ultimate benefits is going to provide us and more reliably and cost effectively meeting our goals around reducing carbon emissions.


Sean McMahon  29:56

Okay, well, that sounds like a promising future for that. One other thing I wanted to circle back on is you mentioned kind of the blend between, you know, percentage of hydrogen and natural gas. So I'm just curious what kind of role politics might play in that transition to blend because I'm picturing a world where, if you're from a state where, you know, gas is a key industry, you might want to slow that transition to 100%. Hydrogen, like, Is there any potential where that could become a stumbling block?


Michael Ducker  30:24

So I think what we've already seen firsthand is, is those regions, and even those companies who have historically relied on revenues from certain commodities, are recognizing the opportunity at hand. And I think we look, even the Gulf Coast, we see commitments towards 100% carbon free within the next few decades. 


So you do now have states that historically dependent on fossil fuel resources and other commodities that are now also making commitments to that, that transition, I think there is opportunities to, to use existing infrastructure. So we talked a lot about the steam methane reforming, and being able to, you know, have forms of blue hydrogen, where we capture the co2, there's a lot of existing infrastructure, so you know, even those entities to repurpose that existing infrastructure to be able to convert it to carbon free form. And then over time, as more and more renewables are prevalent in those regions, can add a bigger mix of green hydrogen, or maybe green up front to all those combinations are there, you know, I think that there's not necessarily lost opportunity on either end to to be able to get to these carbon free targets.


Sean McMahon  31:33

So right now, there's a lot of momentum behind the green recovery. But there's also a lot of challenges out there. So can you kind of explain to me why things might not be as simple as the headlines might say?


Michael Ducker  31:43

Sure. You know, I think it comes down to industry and companies like Mitsubishi need to continue to make significant investments in advancing technologies and advancing infrastructure, even within Mitsubishi ourselves. What have we been doing? We've been very focused on energy storage of all durations, and making investments, not just from lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen, but even looking at flow batteries, and what else is here to come in the future. We look at digital integration to how do we look at the opportunity for more intelligent solutions and say, digital twins of these technologies and of clean energy. 


So in even talking renewable energy themselves, making investments in say offshore wind and next generation gas turbines that are continuing to push the envelope, and improve efficiencies and reliability, and using carbon free forms of energy. So all of this takes an investment. And all this takes a commitment by a multitude of technology companies have utilities of end users of government agencies of everyone involved in the value chain. And we are extremely excited to play a very important role in that transition, and then a commitment that to make this a reality here in the future.


Sean McMahon  33:01

Well, that sounds like it's a big challenge. But it sounds like we've got you know, the right people working on it. Hey, listen, Michael, thank you very much for your time. I appreciate you. Let me geek out with you on the salt caverns there. And I also appreciate your bold predictions.


Michael Ducker  33:13

I love it. Yep.


Sean McMahon  33:14

This has been fun. Thanks for your time.


Michael Ducker  33:16

Thanks a lot, Sean. Really appreciate it.


Sean McMahon  33:23

Now it's time for the PodBrief segment of today's show. So I just want to chime in with a few thoughts about greenwashing. greenwashing is when an organization overstates the green and or sustainable benefits of an investment or initiative? Let's be honest, in some cases, overstates might be to kind of word organizations are simply lying. 


In recent days, the UK has announced an investigation into how energy providers label and market their offerings, while an organization known as Greenwatch has released an analysis that uses artificial intelligence to determine if what corporations say about their climate initiatives matches their actions. Both of these developments are undoubtedly good, but they also highlight how subjective some environmental and sustainability claims can be. There are no generally accepted standards for what constitutes green or sustainable. So your green might look pretty grey to me, and vice versa. 


It's not going to be easy, but the marketplace needs to find a way to develop globally accepted standards for key terms and principles. There's simply too much money and an environment on the line. Start with basic, basic benchmarks and go from there. With billions of dollars flooding into green and sustainable investing, it's crucial to separate the companies that overstate their performance from those that actually deliver. Without some kind of generally accepted standards. I'm afraid greenwashing will always simply be in the eye of the beholder. 


That's all I’ve got. Once again, I'd like to thank the exclusive sponsor of today's episode, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. 


If you liked this podcast, please share it with your friends and colleagues. And be sure to follow us on Apple, Google, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow us on Twitter, or our handle is at @RenewablesPod. And if you'd like a daily dose of renewable news delivered to your inbox, head to and sign up for the Renewable Energy SmartBrief. The Renewable Energy SmartPod is a production of SmartBrief - a Future company

The different "colors" of hydrogen
The role of electrolyzers
The current state of the green hydrogen market
Use cases for green hydrogen vs. lithium-ion batteries
Solving seasonal energy shortages
Making blackouts a thing of the past
The cost curve for green hydrogen
Which industries are primed to benefit most from green hydrogen?
What's going on at the Intermountain Power Plant
The Advanced Clean Energy Storage project
Geeking out about salt caverns
The existing hydrogen transmission network
Building hydrogen hubs throughout the United States
Michael's bold predictions on green hydrogen
Green hydrogen as a political football?
What it will take to realize the promise of green hydrogen
PodBrief: Greenwashing