White House launches $7 billion ‘generative’ hydrogen hub plan

The Department of Energy has opened applications for $7 billion to establish up to 10 regional hydrogen hubs, part of a broader roadmap unveiled Thursday and described by officials as essential to reducing emissions in industrial sectors such as energy, transportation. , steel and cement.

The hub program — enacted by Congress in the infrastructure bill passed last November — was announced at the Energy Department’s Clean Energy Ministerial and Global Clean Energy Action Forum in Pittsburgh, where government officials and industry executives are exploring the role of hydrogen in discuss the achievement of climate targets.

Hydrogen is a versatile energy source that can be used to clean up hard-to-decarbonize industries and achieve climate goals of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the energy sector by 2035 and in the U.S. economy by 2050, David Turk, Assistant Secretary of Energy , told reporters in a conference call. A colorless and odorless gas, hydrogen gives off water as the only by-product when used in a fuel cell.

“This is one of the largest investments in DOE’s history into what we believe will be a generational opportunity,” Turk said. “There’s no part of that” [infrastructure] bill that has received more attention and more interest than the hydrogen hubs piece.”

Hydrogen has attracted dual interest from states. A group of Midwestern governors this week unveiled a coalition focused on developing hydrogen as an alternative energy source to boost the region’s decarbonization efforts.

Regional nodes

The department plans to select at least four regional hubs, with at least one of “green” hydrogen produced by renewable energy; one of “blue” hydrogen from natural gas and using carbon capture and storage; and a “pink” nuclear-powered hydrogen project.

The department is committed to geographic diversity and expects to see applications with broad groups of hydrogen stakeholders: corporations, government agencies, producers and consumers, pipelines and transportation companies, said Kelly Cummins, acting director and deputy director of the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations. , who manages the program.

No major changes have been made to the department’s hydrogen hub strategy compared to a letter of intent released in June, Cummins said. Draft papers must be submitted by November 7, 2022 and full applications must be submitted by April 7, 2023.

The department has also released a draft of the National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap for public feedback. The roadmap outlines the potential for hydrogen to “contribute to national decarbonization and economic development goals,” the department said in a press release.

A final version of the strategy and roadmap will be released in the coming months and will be updated at least every three years.

The hub program has progressed as the industry is poised to grow with a hydrogen tax credit instituted by the Climate and Tax Act passed by Congress last month.

scale up

In Pittsburgh, officials at a hydrogen business forum on Thursday discussed ways to scale the infrastructure.

Participants described the importance of public-private partnerships in achieving the Energy Department’s “1-1-1” goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per kilogram over ten years.

“It’s doable — we haven’t paid attention to it in years,” John Kerry, Presidential Special Envoy for Climate, told a packed house at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center. “I think this is why this room is full: people understand that this is a new era.”

Hydrogen transport will be an important part, conference participants said. Allowing revision legislation unveiled by Sen. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) on Wednesday includes providing oversight of hydrogen pipelines to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which currently regulates interstate natural gas pipelines.

Turk said the Biden administration was sensitive to community concerns for environmental justice that hydrogen could lead to local impacts and climate emissions.

“We are doing this in a full, rigorous, environmental integrity manner,” Turk said, adding that he has engaged with advocacy groups and community leaders, and recently met with the Environmental Defense Fund to discuss how clean hydrogen can be used. are defined.

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