The Pacific Northwest is home to affordable renewable energy resources, such as solar, wind and hydro. We are also home to fertile agriculture, commercial transportation and industries that require backup generators during power outages, such as data centers and hospitals. This makes our region ideal for connecting renewable hydrogen production to customer demand.
The Obsidian Pacific NW Hydrogen Hub will initially prioritize three types of customers who can easily and affordably switch to using renewable hydrogen: green ammonia fertilizer for local agriculture, commercial transportation and backup emergency power for data centers, hospitals, the military and other businesses that currently rely on diesel generators for emergency power.
Farmers are stewards of the Earth. Decarbonizing our agriculture system is good for the planet and for business. The second largest use of hydrogen today is fertilizer for our agriculture sector – and nearly all of it is produced from fossil fuel derived hydrogen contributing 2% of the world’s carbon emissions. Renewable hydrogen is a fast and affordable way to decarbonize farming and help meet the region’s carbon reduction goals.
Currently, the United States produces more than $20 billion worth of hydrogen a year, a significant amount of that is to make ammonia for agriculture uses, creating a massive opportunity to replace existing uses with renewable hydrogen. With an abundance of dairies, berries, apples, wheat, potatoes, grass seed, hay, hops and onions, agriculture is one of the largest industries in the Pacific Northwest economy.
Renewable hydrogen provides a sustainable feedstock to produce green ammonia fertilizer using local renewable energy sources to supply area farms. Pacific Northwest farmers can also use renewable hydrogen as fuel for their equipment instead of diesel.
The Obsidian Pacific NW Hydrogen Hub will include strategically located renewable hydrogen fertilizer plants in Oregon and Washington, allowing farmers to locally source their nitrogen fertilizer, reducing transportation cost, greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on out-of-region suppliers.
Delivering renewable hydrogen to commercial transportation users by storage pipeline is far more cost effective than delivery by rail or road.
The transportation sector is the largest emitter of greenhouse gases because of its heavy reliance on fossil fuels. That can change with technological advancements converting diesel engines to run on hydrogen fuel cells, particularly for commercial transportation, such as trucks, buses, drayage, material handling, rail, marine, aircraft and light duty vehicles.
Businesses with large commercial warehouses, such as Amazon, have been using hydrogen powered forklifts for years. Four percent of American forklifts are already hydrogen powered. Through collaboration, the Obsidian Pacific NW Hydrogen Hub would allow these forklifts to be affordably fueled with renewable hydrogen. And, as these companies switch their commercial trucks to hydrogen, the same hydrogen fueling system used for forklifts can also be used to refill vehicles while the trucks are restocked with goods.
General Motors, Toyota and PACCAR (Kenworth, Peterbilt, et al), Volvo and Daimler Hyundai, Hyzon, and Nikola have all announced investments in manufacturing zero-emission hydrogen trucks. Airbus, United Airlines and Alaska Air are all working on hydrogen aircraft powertrains. The industrial park at Moses Lake, Washington, which is along the pipeline, has been identified as one of the test sites for the nation’s first hydrogen powered commercial aircraft.
Renewable hydrogen from the Obsidian Pacific NW Hydrogen Hub’s storage pipeline can be delivered to fueling stations or end-users of hydrogen engines or fuel cells at competitive prices.
Backup Generators and Emergency Power
Today, nearly all backup energy for data centers is derived from carbon emitting fossil fuels. Data centers and hospitals currently using diesel powered backup generators can be converted to use renewable hydrogen to help meet carbon reduction goals. It can be done affordably by building electrolyzers and delivering renewable energy through storage pipelines to industrial consumers. A key challenge for hydrogen as a backup generator fuel is available space for storage, a problem solved by pipeline service.
The Obsidian Pacific NW Hydrogen Hub will include new dedicated renewable hydrogen storage pipelines to supply nearby hospitals, data centers and other hydrogen consumers. The pipeline will store renewable hydrogen until needed by the data centers and hospitals, allowing them to switch from high-carbon emitting diesel backup generators to clean renewable hydrogen backup fuel cell engines.
Google estimates there are 20 gigawatts of installed diesel generator power at data centers around the world. That’s enough to power 15 million homes. Data centers are expanding and require more electricity. The diesel generator installations required to back them up in a power outage emit so much pollution at that scale expansion is now being limited by environmental permits. Renewable hydrogen will provide the same amount of power with none of the emissions.