UNITED STATES NEWS

States and companies compete for billions to make hydrogen

Apr 5, 2023, 11:06 AM

As fossil fuel emissions continue warming Earth’s atmosphere, the Biden administration is turning to hydrogen as an energy source for vehicles, manufacturing and generating electricity.

It’s offering $8 billion to entice the nation’s industries, engineers and planners to figure out how to produce and deliver clean hydrogen. States and businesses are making final pitches Friday as they compete for a new program that will create regional networks, or “hubs,” of hydrogen producers, consumers and infrastructure. The aim is to accelerate the availability and use of the colorless, odorless gas that already powers some vehicles and trains.

How can enough hydrogen be produced to meet demand — in ways that don’t worsen global warming? And how can it be moved efficiently to where users can get it? Such questions will be tackled by the hubs.

Nearly every state has joined at least one proposed hub and many are working together, hoping to reap the economic development and jobs they would bring. The governors of Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma came up with the “HALO Hydrogen Hub” to compete for funding, for example.

Big fossil fuel companies like Chevron and EQT Corporation, renewable energy developers such as Obsidian, and researchers in university and government labs are involved, too.

But only a select few will receive billions in federal funding. Here are some questions and answers about the initiative:

————

Q. What is a hydrogen hub?

A. The bipartisan infrastructure law signed by President Joe Biden last year included $8 billion for a program to establish six to 10 regional “hydrogen hubs” around the nation. A hub is meant to be a network of companies that produce clean hydrogen and of the industries that use it — heavy transportation, for example — and infrastructure such as pipelines and refueling stations. States and companies have teamed up to create hub proposals. Their final applications are due Friday at the U.S. Department of Energy, which is expected to start awarding money later this year.

Q. Why hydrogen?

Hydrogen can be made in ways that yield little if any planet-warming greenhouse gases. The Energy Department says hydrogen, once produced, can generate power in a fuel cell, emitting only water vapor and warm air. The department says the hubs will produce “clean” hydrogen, although its definition includes hydrogen produced with natural gas. Gas companies have talked about mixing hydrogen at low concentrations with methane for delivery to homes and businesses.

Some consider hydrogen “clean” only if made through electrolysis — splitting water molecules using renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power, which also is carbon free, as well as nuclear power. But some oil and gas companies say they can use fossil fuels as feedstocks if they capture the carbon dioxide and keep it out of the atmosphere.

Environmental groups say hydrogen presents its own pollution and climate risks. When emitted into the atmosphere, it boosts volumes of methane and other greenhouse gases, underscoring the need to avoid leaks from hydrogen systems – an issue the hubs should consider, said Nichole Saunders, staff attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund.

Q. Who are the finalists?

The Energy Department asked for detailed plans and received 79. In December, the department encouraged 33 of those with hub proposals to submit a final application, although ones that were discouraged can still apply. The department hasn’t identified the applicants because of sensitive negotiations over where to put the hubs.

The environmental nonprofit Clean Air Task Force has monitored the process and identified 23 finalists on an online map. The Associated Press contacted those groups and received responses from most, confirming that they were encouraged by the DOE to apply by Friday and sharing details of their plans. Among them are energy producers — fossil fuels as well as renewable developers — plus states, universities, national laboratories, utilities and companies that plan to use the hydrogen.

More than 60 public and private entities in the Midwest want a hub in their region, for example. The Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen says it would be an “ideal fit,” partly because many large industrial sectors there, including steel, ammonia and refining, rely on “dirty hydrogen consumption” to fuel their operations.

Q. What are they proposing?

A. At least eight plan to source their hydrogen from fossil fuels and produce it using natural gas, in keeping with a provision in the law that at least two hubs should be in areas with the nation’s most abundant gas supplies.

The Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub is a partnership involving the state of West Virginia and EQT, the nation’s largest natural gas producer, among others. They say their region has enormous gas resources and could produce hydrogen from methane using heat, steam and pressure while capturing the carbon dioxide it would generate.

At least eight other proposals would generate hydrogen from water through electrolysis, primarily using renewable sources such as wind and solar, although some would power the process with nuclear energy. They are concentrated in coastal and Upper Midwestern states. California has a renewables-only plan to use hydrogen to decarbonize transportation, ports and power plants, with its Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems. Washington, Oregon and Montana — the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Association — also want to use renewables to produce hydrogen to use for heavy-duty transportation, aviation, maritime and agriculture.

The Great Lakes Clean Hydrogen Coalition would produce hydrogen at the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio, through electrolysis and transport it by pipeline and truck for the region’s steelmaking, aviation and glass manufacturing industries.

Some hubs would use both natural gas with carbon capture techniques and renewables, like the HyVelocity proposal in the Gulf region. That hub includes Chevron, Air Liquide, University of Texas, GTI Energy and the Center for Houston’s Future. They say a hub makes sense there because the Texas Gulf Coast already produces 3.5 million metric tons of hydrogen annually, or one-third of all U.S. hydrogen production.

Q. Why is this important?

The United States can’t meet its climate goals relying on a vast buildout of renewables and electrification alone, said Emily Kent, the U.S. director for zero-carbon fuels at the Clean Air Task Force.

But clean hydrogen plays an important role in decarbonizing sectors of the economy that are nearly impossible to electrify, she added. That includes long-haul trucking, marine shipping and aviation, heavy industries including iron and steelmaking, and the existing production and use of hydrogen.

Yet, the United States makes very little hydrogen. Currently it’s produced using natural gas to be used for refining petroleum and producing ammonia for fertilizer.

Joseph Majkut, at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank, said the hubs, along with the tax credits offered for hydrogen production, are the way the U.S. is going to commit significant public spending to jumpstart the industry.

The country wants to make the electric grid carbon-free by 2035, and reach net zero economy-wide by 2050 so the greenhouse gases produced are no more than the amount removed from the atmosphere. The U.S. Department of Energy says hydrogen has great potential for providing power and heat.

“We’ve been producing and using hydrogen for a long time,” Kent said. “We have not been producing it in these ways, with these technologies, and we have not been using it in a lot of these sectors.”

___

On Twitter follow Jennifer McDermott at www.twitter.com/JenMcDermottAP and John Flesher at www.twitter.com/JohnFlesher.

___

Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

United States News

Associated Press

Police: 3 killed, 6 wounded in ‘exchange of gunfire’ during gathering in Philadelphia; no arrests

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Three men were killed and at least six other people wounded in an early morning shootout at a gathering in west Philadelphia, authorities said. Police said more than 100 people were present in the Carroll Park neighborhood when gunfire broke out just after 2 a.m. Sunday. Police said their preliminary information indicated […]

19 minutes ago

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., takes a moment to talk with reporters as he arrives at the Democratic Se...

Associated Press

Sen. Joe Manchin, an independent of West Virginia, urges Biden to withdraw from race

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat turned independent, urged President Joe Biden on Sunday to drop his reelection bid and focus on the remaining months of his presidency. “I came to the decision with a heavy heart that I think it’s time to pass the torch to a new generation,” the West Virginia […]

1 hour ago

Members of the U.S. Secret Service look on as Republican presidential candidate former President Do...

Associated Press

The Secret Service acknowledges denying some past requests by Trump’s campaign for tighter security

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — The Secret Service now acknowledges it denied some requests by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s campaign for increased security at his events in the years before the assassination attempt on him at a recent rally. In the immediate aftermath of the July 13 attack, the law enforcement agency had denied […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Russia says it scrambled fighter jets to intercept U.S. bomber planes over Barents Sea

Russia said Sunday it scrambled fighter jets to intercept two U.S. military long-range bomber aircraft that approached the Russian border over the Barents Sea in the Arctic. “The crews of the Russian fighters identified the aerial target as a pair of U.S. Air Force B-52H strategic bombers,” Moscow’s defense ministry wrote on the social media […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Secret Service Director Kimberly Cheatle attends a news conference, June 4, 2024, in Chicago...

Associated Press

Secret Service chief noted a ‘zero fail mission.’ After Trump rally, she’s facing calls to resign

WASHINGTON (AP) — When safeguard the American president and other dignitaries, she said she would talk to agents in training about the “awesome responsibility” of their job. “This agency and the Secret Service has a zero fail mission,” Cheatle, who is now director of the agency, said in 2021 during a Secret Service podcast called […]

3 hours ago

Donna Sybert, Managing Editor of the Butler Eagle newspaper, holds a Special Edition of the paper d...

Associated Press

The biggest of stories came to the small city of Butler. Here’s how its newspaper met the moment

BUTLER, Pa. (AP) — When gunshots echoed at the Trump rally where she was working, Butler Eagle reporter Irina Bucur dropped to the ground just like everyone else. She was terrified. She hardly froze, though. Bucur tried to text her assignment editor, through spotty cell service, to tell him what was going on. She took […]

9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 storylines to get you revved up for the 2024 Arizona Cardinals

Arizona Cardinals training camp is just a couple weeks away starting on July 25, and Sanderson Ford is revved up and ready to go.

...

DESERT INSTITUTE FOR SPINE CARE

Desert Institute for Spine Care is the place for weekend warriors to fix their back pain

Spring has sprung and nothing is better than March in Arizona. The temperatures are perfect and with the beautiful weather, Arizona has become a hotbed for hikers, runners, golfers, pickleball players and all types of weekend warriors.

...

DISC Desert Institute for Spine Care

Sciatica pain is treatable but surgery may be required

Sciatica pain is one of the most common ailments a person can face, and if not taken seriously, it could become one of the most harmful.

States and companies compete for billions to make hydrogen