The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced its intention to develop a network of regional hydrogen hubs.
H2Hubs: Creating networks of hydrogen producers
On 6 June 2022, the DOE released a notice of intent (NOI) to fund the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s $8bn programme to develop a network of regional hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs) across America.
H2Hubs will generate networks of hydrogen producers, consumers, and local connective infrastructure to fast-track the use of hydrogen as a clean energy source. The production, processing, delivery, storage, and end-use of clean hydrogen, including groundbreaking applications in the industrial sector, is crucial to DOE’s intention to achieve President Biden’s goal of a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
“Hydrogen energy has the power to slash emissions from multiple carbon-intensive sectors and open a world of economic opportunity to clean energy businesses and workers across the country,” explained Jennifer M. Granholm, U.S. Secretary of Energy.
“These hydrogen hubs will make significant progress towards President Biden’s vision for a resilient grid that is powered by clean energy and built by American workers.”
Hydrogen investments to decarbonise the industrial sector
The hydrogen technology investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are a significant component of President Biden’s plan to decarbonise the industrial sector, which accounts for approximately a third of domestic carbon emissions.
It has been observed that hydrogen energy has the ability to decarbonise multiple economic sectors – including heavy-duty transportation and steel manufacturing – create jobs that pay well, and pave the way toward a grid powered by clean energy resources. Currently, the US is responsible for producing approximately 10 million metric tons of hydrogen annually, compared to roughly 90 million tonnes produced globally per year.
The majority of the hydrogen produced in the US is generated from natural gas through steam methane reforming. Electrolysis technology – which utilises electricity to produce hydrogen from water – is an emerging pathway with dozens of installations across the country. This technology could produce hydrogen utilising clean electricity from renewable energy including solar, wind, and nuclear power.
The selection of the regional H2Hubs will utilise cross-office collaboration and consider factors, such as environmental justice, community engagement, consent-based siting, equity, and workforce development.
The DOE intends to select proposals that prioritise employment opportunities and address hydrogen feedstocks, end uses, and geographic diversity. The NOI offers a high-level draft plan for DOE’s current vision to meet the BIL requirements for the H2Hubs, which will be supported by DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstration and Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.