Mitsubishi Power moves into Bakken Shale on blue hydrogen infrastructure deal

Generic hydrogen production illustration courtesy EIA-DOE

Mitsubishi Power is joining with a pipeline company based in a key U.S. natural gas play to develop a hydrogen hub which can then be connected to other H2 infrastructure throughout North America.

The deal partners Mitsubishi Power Americas with Bakken Energy to work on creating “clean” hydrogen facilities in North Dakota, the main state where the Bakken Shale is located. The infrastructure would produce, store, transport and consume hydrogen (which itself does not have a carbon atom) and also connected by pipeline to other facilities.

To be truly clean or “green hydrogen,” it must be produced from electrolysis which is powered by zero-carbon electricity resources such as wind, solar or nuclear. Another method is to produce “blue” hydrogen via a natural gas treatment process, but then capture and store that carbon so it’s essential low or zero emission.

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Mitsubishi Power has been working on hydrogen mixtures in its gas-fired turbines, aiming for some 100-percent H2-fueled models within the next few decades. The clean hydrogen hub would help provide fuel resources for carbon-free generation elsewhere in the electricity, agriculture, transportation and manufacturing sectors.

“Blue hydrogen represents a huge opportunity for synergies with our existing energy development, and these are exactly the innovative strategies that will bring North Dakota one step closer to being carbon neutral by 2030 with an all-of-the-above energy approach,” said North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum. “We’re grateful that these companies are leading the way to making this the next big industry in North Dakota. The state is committed to supporting the development of exciting value-added projects like this to create jobs, diversify our economy and strengthen U.S. energy security.”

Bakken Energy, supported by Mitsubishi Power, is currently working with Basin Electric Power Cooperative and its subsidiary Dakota Gasification Company on the potential acquisition and redevelopment of the Great Plains Synfuels Plant located near Beulah, North Dakota. The redevelopment would make the facility the largest producer of clean hydrogen in North America. The project is in due diligence, and specific details are confidential until that phase is complete.

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“While still early in the due diligence process, we are excited about the prospect of the Great Plains Synfuels Plant being redeveloped into a world class clean hydrogen complex, and everything that means for the workforce, the region and the whole state,” said Paul Sukut, Chief Executive Officer and General Manager of Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

The Bakken Shale which stretches below North Dakota and neighboring states could possess up to 2 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. Blue hydrogen can be created from steam methane reforming or auto thermal reforming, with the CO2 captured, stored and perhaps utilized later.

Mitsubishi Power, which manufactures gas turbines and power plants, is undergoing numerous H2 testing projects both in the U.S. and globally. It is partnering on several salt cavern storage potential projects, while also working with utilities and other companies on hydrogen-mix in both generation and infrastructure.

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