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“We’re looking at some different emerging technologies, but hydrogen is pretty interesting.”

Luis Reyes, chief executive of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative in Taos, N.M., reflecting on the announcement that a study underway seeks to determine whether a former molybdenum mine site in nearby Questa would be a suitable place to develop a green hydrogen production facility.

The Taos News explains that the filled-in tailings pond for the closed Questa molybdenum mine was among 40 locations across the country that received a technical assistance from the U.S. Department of Energy earlier this year to explore clean energy development projects.

To make green hydrogen requires land, water and fossil-free power. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that most hydrogen is produced using natural gas, which produces emissions in the process.

The three national labs in New Mexico and Colorado as well as Chevron, owner of the mining site, and the electrical cooperative are among the partners in the aspirational study.

What could be at issue is sufficient water, reports the Taos News. Chevron is battling New Mexico over a “significant amount of water rights that the state declared invalid due to non-use.” This is in the Rio Grande drainage, a place of rapidly diminishing water amid rising temperatures.

Kit Carson would provide the renewable generation. In June, the electrical cooperative achieved enough solar capacity to supply 100% of daytime needs. It wants to do more.

“The co-op’s overall goal is to be 100% renewable and carbon free,” says Reyes. “We hit our first targets of 100% daytime solar and we put on batteries. I think our second phase is, what do we do for cloudy days, snowy days, nighttime? We want it renewable, we want it carbon-free, we want it to be clean.”

Reyes also noted that Kit Carson just signed a deal to purchase wind-derived electricity being produced in Colorado.

An analysis by Shearman and Sterling, a law firm, found that incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act could accelerate development of hydrogen.

“When combined with the investment tax credits for renewable power production and energy storage infrastructure, the entire upstream value chain for green hydrogen production infrastructure, from well (electron generation) to gate (the outlet of storage facilities), is now subsidized by the U.S. government, reported the firm in a blog posted on its website.

Kit Carson started down a path in 2016 that was then less taken. It wanted to put coal-fired generation on the shelf and pursue alternatives. Tri-State Generation & Transmission, then its wholesale supplier, was hesitant, some would say stubbornly resistant. Kit Carson in August made the final payment on its $37 million exit fee from Tri-State, two months after it had completed installation of 15 megawatts of battery storage.

Reyes continued to emphasize the idea that green energy development in northern New Mexico represents diversification for the tourism-based economy.



“We don’t need carbon capture at scale this decade. The things that are going to do all of the emissions reductions work, really, the bulk of it, are technologies that we bet on a decade ago and are ready to scale now. What we need to do over the next decade is to repeat that same kind of success that we had for wind and solar and batteries with the full portfolio of options that we think we might need at scale in the 2030s and 2040s. That includes carbon capture, nuclear, and advanced geothermal — and that includes all different ways to produce hydrogen, which is a critical energy carrier in the long run.”

Jessie Jenkins, an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University and a central figure in the Net-Zero America Project, in a broad-ranging podcast with Ezra Klein of the New York Times.

The podcast lasts 1 hour, 43 minutes. The transcript runs 30 pages, if you download it (as I did).

The Net-Zero America Project pointed out that it took 140 years to build today’s power grid. “Now, we have to build that much new clean electricity again and then build it again,” said Klein. “So we have to build it twice over in just 30 years to hit our goals.”

Jenkins’ group at Princeton estimates that U.S. demand for electricity will more than double by 2050.


“We don’t have to end one industry and create another. We can take advantage of this incredible network of infrastructure that the United States has.”

Chad Zamarin, senior vice president of corporate strategic development for Williams Companies, a major natural gas processor and transporter, sees possibilities in hydrogen.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the company is confident it can safely blend enough hydrogen into existing pipelines to satisfy the emerging U.S. hydrogen market. It does not see an end in demand for natural gas. It may use gas or build turbines to harness the area’s wind – or both — to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen then could be exported to more distant population centers through the pipelines that today transport the state’s natural gas.

Black Hills Energy, which has natural gas operations in Wyoming as well as in Colorado, has also committed to reaching net-zero methane emissions from its distribution system by 2035. It expects to integrate a combination of hydrogen and renewable natural gas into the fuel supply to meet that target. This is a more ambitious goal than what had previously been adopted by Black Hills.

Williams received $1 million and Black Hills $500,000 last summer from the Wyoming Energy Authority to study hydrogen’s prospects in Wyoming.

Williams has since joined ongoing efforts by Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah to secure up to $2 billion in federal funding for a hydrogen hub spanning all four states.

Wyoming has nine or so early projects that explore the feasibility of low-carbon hydrogen.

Allen Best
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