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Colorado study identifies pilot projects and other next steps for hydrogen

Hydrogen seems to be where solar was maybe 15 to 25 years ago. Great idea – but who can afford it?

But a report commissioned by the Colorado Energy Office sees more near-term opportunities for hydrogen as technological issues are worked out and costs decline.

The most promising short-term application lies in the medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sector, says the report, “Opportunities for Low-Carbon Hydrogen in Colorado: A Roadmap.”

In the medium time frame, there’s significant potential in the electric sector, especially as greenhouse gas pollution reduction targets exceed 80% to 90% and the need for firm zero carbon generation or long-duration, multi-day storage increases.

Eventually, hydrogen could replace fossil gas use for electric peaking generation —such as on hot summer afternoons. This could be done by both hydrogen production through grid-powered electrolysis and hydrogen-fueled electric generation.

The report says hydrogen produced from renewables could achieve cost parity with hydrogen from steam-methane production combined with carbon capture and storage by the mid-2030s.

The report by Energy & Environmental Economics, a consulting firm, identifies potential actions, including development of pilot projects in the electricity generation sector and in the gas-distribution sector. It also recommends investigating regional hydrogen hubs.

See press release here.


Investigative dead-end in case of Christmas sabotage of Aspen natural gas lines

Aspen police say they have reached a dead-end in their effort to figure out who sabotaged natural gas lines serving the community the day after Christmas in 2019.

The saboteur or saboteurs turned off the valves of the Black Hills Energy natural gas lines at one location within Aspen and two just outside the city. Left behind at two locations were “Earth First!” graffiti.  Nobody within that loosely affiliated group has taken credit, however.

The Aspen Times says the sabotage caused 3,500 people and businesses to lose natural gas for about three days beginning the day after Christmas, a time of sub-zero temperatures. Black Hills reported spending $1.4 million to restore natural gas deliveries, as it was not a simple matter of turning on the three valves. Visits to each location to restore service were necessary.


Vail Resorts reports it’s now at 85% clean electricity

Vail Resorts reports that the company has achieved renewable energy portfolios responsible for 85% of electricity used at its 34 resort mountains in North America.

The company doesn’t necessarily provide that much electricity at each of its resorts. Instead, it is responsible for purchases of giant amounts of electricity from select locations, including a wind farm in Nebraska that went on line in 2020. Another project, the Elektron Solar project being built west of Salt Lake City, will push the percentage above 85% when it is completed in 2023.

The report, the 2020-21 EpicPromise Progress Report, says Vail Resorts has achieved an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 50.5%. That again is based on Scope 2 emissions, meaning this is market-based reduction, not necessarily a reduction at each resort.

Overall, electricity was responsible for 64% of the emissions at Vail Resorts properties in 2021. Diesel fuel was 14%, natural gas 11%, propane and heating oil 6%, and unloaded fuel 4%.

“Energy efficiency remains a key strategy in reducing the emissions associated with our operations,” the report said. The company has set a goal of a 15% energy efficiency savings in its overall energy operations by 2030 as compared to 2017.


Progress on 13 solar projects in Yampa Valley celebrated

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held on Nov. 19 to celebrate completion of 13 new solar arrays in the Yampa Valley from Yampa to Craig.

Northwest Regional Partners – a consortium of local governments—in March 2020 contracted with McKinstry to study feasibility of solar at sites in Routt and Moffat counties. The consortium in January 2021 announced a $2.1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs Energy Impact Fund. The partners—5 towns and cities, 2 counties and one school district —will be able to buy their individual project paybacks down to 11 years. Assistance per project ranged from $63,500 to $900,000

The celebration will be held at the Yampa Valley Regional Airport near Hayden from noon to 1:15 on Nov. 19.

Routt County and towns now looking for group to implement climate plan

Routt County in August adopted a climate action plan model, and now the county and its five municipalities who also approved the plan are looking for members to fill out a collaborative.

The collaborative, based in part on those adopted in Eagle and Summit counties, is to provide a means to implement the plan, explains the Steamboat Pilot.

Fort Collins blew past its emissions targets by 20%

Fort Collins as of 2020 had reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 44% as compared to 2005 levels, easily exceeding the goals the community had originally set.

Improvements were credited mostly to the new Roundhouse wind farm that displaced coal generation in the Platte River Power Authority generating mix, but also reduced vehicle travel and emissions from industrial sources.

The Fort Collins Coloradoan reported in October that the Fort Collins Sustainability Group, a non-government organization, applauded the progress but warned that similar emission reductions were unlikely in 2021 and warned against complacency. The city plans call for increased adoption of renewable energy, reductions in transportation emissions, and universal composting.



Allen Best
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