Geoffrey S. Ellis, Ph.D., U.S. Geological Survey
Thursday, June 15, 2023, 10:00am - 11:00 am Central
Bureau of Economic Geology Special Presentation

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Energy policy analysts predict an expanded role for hydrogen (H2) in the future energy mix, with H2 projected to account for as much as 30% of the energy supply in some sectors and demand increasing more than five-fold by 2050. To achieve climate objectives, these projections involve methane derived H2 coupled with carbon sequestration (blue H2), and H2 generated by electrolysis of water using renewable sources of electricity (green H2). Reaching these goals will require an unprecedented investment in new technology and infrastructure. Currently, H2 is viewed exclusively as a medium for energy storage and transport and not a primary energy resource. Although the presence of natural H2 in the subsurface of the Earth is well documented in a variety of geologic environments, economic accumulations of natural H2 have generally been assumed to be non-existent. Recent discoveries in Africa and elsewhere have challenged this notion, and there is a growing acknowledgement that geoscientists have not looked for native H2 in the right places with the right tools. While much is known about the occurrence of subsurface H2 (e.g., generation mechanisms, consumptive processes, etc.), there is currently a lack of understanding of the processes and settings that are most conducive to the formation of significant accumulations of H2. I will discuss what we know and don’t know about the global resource potential for natural hydrogen, how we can apply existing resource exploration strategies, and what new knowledge and technologies are needed to improve our understanding of this previously overlooked potential energy resource.