The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced $7 billion to kick off seven regional clean hydrogen hubs in the U.S., with the broader aim of supporting the commercial-scale deployment of clean hydrogen in the country.
The seven hubs are funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, passed in 2021, and will, according to the DOE “kickstart a national network of clean hydrogen producers, consumers, and connective infrastructure while supporting the production, storage, delivery, and end-use of clean hydrogen.” They are collectively expected to produce three million metric tons of hydrogen each year, and reduce around 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Projects that were selected for negotiation include the Appalachian Hydrogen Hub, California Hydrogen Hub, Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub, Heartland Hydrogen Hub, Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub, Midwest Hydrogen Hub and the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub. However, these selections don’t represent a commitment of funding from the DOE; the agency will now go through a negotiations process with the applicants. The H2Hubs program is managed by the DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.
“Unlocking the full potential of hydrogen—a versatile fuel that can be made from almost any energy resource in virtually every part of the country—is crucial to achieving President Biden’s goal of American industry powered by American clean energy, ensuring less volatility and more affordable energy options for American families and businesses,” said Jennifer Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy.
Clean hydrogen has emerged as an important priority for the Biden-Harris Administration, in part due to its potential in industries that would otherwise be hard to decarbonize, including heavy-duty transportation. The administration is looking at domestically producing 10 million metric tonnes (MMT) of clean hydrogen annually by 2030, ramping up to 20 MMT annually by 2040 and 50 MMT annually by 2050.
The DOE’s announcement is a critical first step in decarbonizing existing carbon-intensive hydrogen applications such as ammonia production for fertilizers and petrochemicals refining and in decarbonizing new applications of hydrogen in hard-to-abate sectors, including heavy-duty trucking, shipping, and aviation, said Anna Menke, senior hydrogen hubs manager at the Clean Air Task Force.
It is also a “major step forward for the hydrogen economy here in the United States,” said Frank Wolak, president and CEO of the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association.
“Engagement by state and local leaders in communities across the country, matched with significant private investment, will develop the hydrogen economy so consumers, businesses and communities can decarbonize many of the most difficult heavy-using energy sectors like heavy-duty and long-haul transportation, cement, aluminum and steel, all-the-while providing important, good-paying clean energy jobs,” Wolak added.
However, some stakeholders remain skeptical.
“Throwing billions at hydrogen hubs deepens our dependence on fossil fuels and worsens the climate emergency,” said Maggie Coulter, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute.
“President Biden should be urgently investing in proven and increasingly affordable solar and wind energy. It’s wasteful and misguided to fund false solutions like hydrogen that only further burden frontline communities,” Coulter added.
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