Keystone XL for the Hydrogen Economy?

Keystone XL was first proposed in 2008(!). Construction began earlier this year and now the President of the United States has cancelled the permit that allowed Keystone XL pipeline to cross the border from Canada into the United States.

Proponents and Opponents have spent considerable time, energy, and money over more than 12 years.

This got us thinking if there is a way to constructively utilize this active participation, large body of knowledge, and significant resources spent to date.

keystone xl
The map above shows proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. The Keystone XL pipeline was designed to transport crude oil from Alberta to various processing hubs in the middle of the United States. The opposition to Keystone XL is centered on environmental consequences of using crude oil from Alberta. United States crude oil production averages about 11 grams of carbon emissions per barrel, which is roughly the worldwide average. Crude oil production from Alberta’s oil sands emits about 18 grams of carbon per barrel.1

The map above shows oil and gas fields of North America. Alberta has significant natural gas reserves and production capability.

As States shift to renewable (i.e. green) electricity generation from intermittent sources such as wind, solar, and hydro, there would be significant need for energy storage or controllable electricity generation from natural gas or Hydrogen.

In contrast to crude oil, Alberta produces natural gas with lower carbon emission than worldwide average. Alberta is also well positioned to be lowest cost blue Hydrogen producer. Blue hydrogen is produced by reforming natural gas, and separating, capturing, and sequestering (i.e. storing) carbon.

A pipeline can transport blue hydrogen from Alberta to the States. This would provide energy security and reliability, and enable an orderly and faster transition from energy systems of today to completely green energy systems of the near future.

The question then is, can Keystone XL be repurposed to transport Hydrogen from Alberta to the States?

And if it can be, would President of United States (and others) find it in public interest?


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