Hydrogen, carbon capture key to net-zero U.S. electricity: study

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States can generate affordable electricity without producing carbon dioxide emissions by 2035 by deploying hydrogen or carbon capture technology, according to a report released on Wednesday by a climate policy think tank.

The climate plan of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden calls on the power sector to erase its greenhouse gas emissions by that time, a goal major utilities believe would require big breakthroughs in technology here. President Donald Trump has said the plan would destabilize the power grid, raise household bills, and kill jobs in drilling and coal mining.

The report by California-based Energy Innovation here, which researches ways to combat global warming, highlighted five scenarios for the United States to generate 100% clean energy in 15 years, without raising power costs. Three rely on the deployment of green hydrogen technology and two rely on capturing CO2 emissions from existing power plants.

“These are real technologies that are not yet deployed at scale, but they are not a fantasy. We have 15 years to get there,” said Sonia Aggarwal, one of the report’s authors.

The analysis builds on a report produced by Energy Innovation earlier this year with the University of California Berkeley that said power-sector emissions can be cut 90% by 2035 by deploying more solar, wind, and battery storage.

The European Union, Japan and South Korea are planning to expand the use of hydrogen, produced using renewable energy to power the electrolysis of water. The fuel can be mixed with natural gas in power plants or can power fuel cells in cars and ships.

A Reuters review of the plans of the country’s top power producers showed many are relying on natural gas-fired power to supplement increased reliance on renewables. Aggarwal said its analysis shows no new gas power plants are needed.

Reporting by Valerie Volcovici in Washington; Editing by Matthew Lewis