92% of hydrogen used in refineries and fertilizers will diminish radically

Hydrogen demand per year, courtesy of IEA

A tremendous amount of attention in governmental and traditional media circles is being given to the promise of a “hydrogen economy”. In general, traditional media and its journalists are non-technical, so coverage tends to follow along with the press releases from the fossil fuel industry and major automotive players who are continuing to try to push the rope of fuel cell, light vehicles up hill.

Governments are putting billions into the promise of the hydrogen economy, prodded by oil and gas lobbyists, as pointed out in CleanTechnica and other sites in different pieces recently. Germany is committing $10.76 billion. Canada…


Quebec and Alberta lithium resources are a tale of two extraction challenges

Map courtesy Institute of the Americas and the Payne Institute of the Colorado School of Mines

Lithium was once used to treat perceived mental health challenges, and now its availability or lack thereof is making markets swing. In the 1950s, Canada was a player in the international lithium market, with a mine in Quebec providing tons of the salt, which then failed as the health market failed. Fast forward to 2021, and lithium is a core component of the electrification of transportation, in all of our electronic gadgets and a lesser component for grid storage.

Canada has significant lithium reserves underground in Quebec and western Canada. …


Biden and Carney identify four overlapping major crises, but the CPC is mostly silent on the major issues of the day

In March of 2021, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, with climate change accelerating, a decade after the sub-prime mortgage crisis exposed deep flaws in the global economy and after the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) had been out of power for six years and counting, they held a policy convention. International headlines were devoted to their rejection of acceptance of climate change and the need for action as an element of their policy. But it’s worth looking at the full set of principles and those devils that the headline 22 principles elide. …


Grid officials and legislators knew that the fossil-fuel dominated grid wasn’t winterized, but decided pointing fingers at renewables was the right thing to do

Pickup buried under an iced up tree in Texas
Pickup buried under an iced up tree in Texas
Image from Paris, Texas courtesy National Weather Service

The failures of Texas’ grid are many and layered. Books will likely be written about the events of the week of Valentine’s Day 2021, along with turgid reports and innumerable articles by better and more poorly informed authors, and by people with specific partisan axes to grind. This article is just part of the flow of virtual ink on the subject, but will try to provide some riverbanks for exploration.

The first thing to acknowledge is that about three dozen Texans died due to Winter Storm Uri, and hundreds suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning, a condition that can cause long-term…


Synthetic fuels are not a Tesla-killer

Table of CO2 and cost various across transportation fuels
Table of CO2 and cost various across transportation fuels

There have been a bunch of published pieces in recent months about something called “blue gas,” claiming that it’s the death of Teslas and EVs. So, what the heck is it, and how realistic are the claims?

Technically, blue gas is gasoline or diesel that is a hydrocarbon fuel manufactured from hydrogen and carbon feedstocks instead of being refined from petroleum.

This sounds interesting, but there are several questions you have to ask. The first is where the hydrogen and carbon comes from. The second is where the energy to extract and combine them comes from, and what else it…


Imagine planting 100 million trees a week, every week

A forested valley
A forested valley
Image courtesy Nathan Stephenson, USGS

Globally, a trillion tree campaign is underway, but only 63 million trees have been planted by all of the contributors to date. That’s not amazing performance, but what if it were ramped up to 100 million trees a week? What would that start to look like for the environment and the climate over various timeframes?

Is 100 Million A Lot Of Trees?

That sounds like a stupid question, doesn’t it? 100 million is the definition of “a lot,” most people would say. …


Including CO2 emissions from burning the petroleum products dwarfs global CCUS market

Alberta and its oil and gas sector are betting big on carbon capture, sequestration, and use to cut their carbon emissions. Too bad the emissions are more than the current global commodity market for CO2 today.

Let’s start with that commodity market. Carbon dioxide is actually used for a bunch of things today. The global market for bulk CO2 is about 230 million tons a year, which sounds like a lot, except that it’s vastly smaller than the excess CO2 we emit annually and even smaller than the excess in the atmosphere. About 130 million tons is used in fertilizer…


Instead of Atoms for Peace, renewables would have received the massive global policy push

Recently someone asked me to do a thought exercise: what if we’d built renewables instead of nuclear generation? They were curious about the implications. I thought it was an interesting question, and didn’t have a great answer at hand, so I thought I’d work out what might have been.

Remember, of course, that this is a thought exercise, and hence like asking how many angels could dance on the head of a pin. …


Heat pumps avoid a lot more greenhouse gases than insulation

Recently I had the opportunity to talk about this subject with architect Paul Dowsett of Sustainable about this subject on Project Save the World’s Youtube tv channel.

It was a great conversation, and drew on the following work I’ve bee publishing over the past months.

— — — — —

For well over a year, I’ve been pulling on a specific thread of CO2e emissions reductions related to existing building stock. …


Hydrogen isn’t a natural gas, gasoline or diesel replacement, but the fossil fuel industry wants you to think it is

Canadian and EU hydrogen roadmap cover pages
Canadian and EU hydrogen roadmap cover pages
Covers courtesy EU and Government of Canada

There’s been a recent emergence of the ‘hydrogen economy’ nonsense globally. Governments globally have been creating roadmaps and budgets. Lobbyists from legacy energy businesses have been all over politicians and the media, trying to get a set of policies which support fossil-fuel sourced hydrogen.

This assessment emerged from the recent Columbia University Sustainable Finance Seminar I was asked to provide as part of its series on the subject. Mark Townsend Cox of New Energy Fund II, LP in Manhattan is co-chair of the series, and he asked me to contribute. The title of my 90-minute talk, which turned into closer…

Michael Barnard

Chief Strategist, TFIE Strategy Inc. Business and technical future-proofing. Top Writer Quora since 2013. CleanTechnica, Forbes, Quartz+ more. In 4 books.

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