Port of Corpus Christi to produce 'green hydrogen,' hopes to reduce carbon footprint

Chris Ramirez
Corpus Christi Caller Times

The Port of Corpus Christi is getting into the green hydrogen game.

The port on Tuesday announced it has entered into a nonbinding Memorandum of Understanding with Ares Management Corp. to develop renewable energy infrastructure on port-owned property. 

It's there that officials for the nation's third-largest port based on tonnage plan to eventually produce green hydrogen and provide renewable power for its customers and its own use.

“As the Energy Port of the Americas, we are working to find new ways to operationalize our commitment to decarbonization," port CEO Sean Strawbridge said in a statement. "This project not only brings a new type of economic activity to our gateway, but it will directly meet the needs of our current customers, many of whom use hydrogen in their production processes."

The Pacific Dawn, a cargo tanker, arrived at the Port of Corpus Christi to be loaded at a recently-built oil dock.

Based in Los Angeles, Ares is a private equity investment manager that provides flexible capital to support businesses. In March, it had $207 billion of assets under management, and more than 1,450 employees in North America, Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. 

Ares also is one of the companies that provided capital commitments for the 700-mile EPIC Crude pipeline project that funnels crude oil from the Permian Basin to the port. 

What is green hydrogen?

The term "green hydrogen" is kind of a misnomer; hydrogen is a colorless gas.

Green hydrogen is the name given to fuel that is created using renewable energy, instead of fossil fuels.

Hydrogen is typically produced by breaking the bond between hydrogen and carbon atoms in natural gas, with CO2 emissions.

If not captured, green hydrogen is produced by passing an electric current — generated from a renewable energy source — through water (a process known as electrolysis) without any emissions.

Electrolysis is gaining traction as part of the energy transition, as the hydrogen produced is a clean fuel that can be used in existing high-carbon intensity industries and processes, such as refining, ammonia and fertilizer productions and thermal power generation. It also has the potential to be instrumental in difficult-to-decarbonize industries such as steel and cement production.

The memorandum outlines preliminary provisions for a renewable energy and clean fuel hub that will be comprised of solar facilities, battery storage facilities and electrolyzer facilities to be located on port-owned property.

One of the US military ships, the Cape Ray, passing under the Harbor Bridge as it leaves the Port of Corpus Christi Feb. 10, 2003, loaded with military equipment.

The first set of facilities will be made up of a solar project capable of generating up 210 megawatts of power, and a 840MWh battery storage facility, which will be capable of powering an electrolyzer facility to produce 9,000 megatons of green hydrogen each year.

The facility would be designed to possibly expand over time.

The memorandum also defines a range of possibilities for the ownership and operation of the infrastructure assets. Development will start immediately, with construction and operations of the different facilities expected over the next several years, the port said in a statement.

President Joe Biden included hydrogen in his $2 trillion plan to combat manmade climate change, which would be key to his overall goal of cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030.  

The U.S. Department of Energy is allocating up to $100 million into the research and development of hydrogen and fuel cells. 

“Even as we continue to actively invest in our traditional, hydrocarbon-based business, we are embracing our role in supporting energy production from diverse sources,” Charles W. Zahn, chairman of the port commission, said in a statement. “For the past three years, the Port of Corpus Christi has purchased 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.”

This is a developing story. Stay with Caller.com for updates.

Chris Ramirez writes about energy, commerce and all things business. Support local coverage like this by checking out our subscription options and special offers at Caller.com/subscribe  

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