Red and blue states race to become hydrogen energy hubs
States such as California, Texas, and Colorado are currently vying for the role of hydrogen production hubs. Although hydrogen has the potential to be used as an additional source of renewable energy, many people aren’t just doing it because they want a cleaner future.
The Biden Administration launched a plan to provide $8 billion to many states across the country to produce and process hydrogen. This was part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill. The Department of Energy is currently reviewing applications for funding and is working to determine where it will go.
The vast amount of hydrogen produced in the US is used for industrial processes such as the production of ammonia fertilizer or the refining of petroleum. However, hydrogen can be used in other ways as well. It can be stored and used to generate renewable energy.
Interests in hydrogen power have grown significantly over the past few years , but the country isn’t currently generating a lot. For example, only around 260 megawatts of power from fuel cell electric power generators is currently in use, while solar is generating around 121 gigawatts. Hydrogen fuel cells can also be used to power electric vehicles.
Jacob Leachman is an associate professor in mechanical and materials engineering at Washington State University. He tells Popular Science that hydrogen-fuel cells are more common than you might think. Leachman states that 33% of the nation’s grocery items are being moved by hydrogen fuel cell forklifts. He also notes that hydrogen fuel cells are extensively used in logistics and freight.
There are several ways hydrogen power can be used on the grid. You can use hydrogen to grid energy store which can be used to back up solar or wind power when they aren’t producing much power. This basically involves using clean energy to electrolyse water to make hydrogen fuel for electricity generation. A process that uses renewable energy can store energy for later.
Hydrogen can also be burned in power plants to produce electricity. However, this is done by mixing it up with natural gas. This still contributes to greenhouse gas emission. However, many power plants that are solely powered by hydrogen are being developed across Europe and other regions.
A hydrogen hub is a region that has a new hydrogen production facility. This can create jobs and make it easier to access hydrogen resources for different uses. Many states are working together to plan for this funding and to compete for it.
Texas has begun hydrogen production in the Houston area. But several consortiums of states are linking up to create regional hubs–including Pacific Northwest and California, Rocky Mountain states like Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, and a northeast consortium including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Hydrogen has many uses. States that want to become “hydrogen production centers” have many reasons to do so. Leachman suggests that while conservative states might look to produce hydrogen primarily for industrial purposes, liberal states could use hydrogen energy as a way to increase their clean-energy capacity. There is also a push for renewable energy in conservative states.
” Every state and region has its own take on hydrogen hubs. Leachman states that many of them are very interested in renewable energy. “All regions have a way they can play this that’s really beneficial to them .”
All states will have access and familiarity with hydrogen resources, and they will be able to distribute it across the country. Leachman believes this will have a significant effect.
” The Hydrogen Hubs initiative requires that the hubs be regionally distributed across the United States. This means that we will have hydrogen hubs in places where there has never been a hydrogen resource. Leachman states. “This is going to lead to huge, fundamental changes in the goods and services as well as energy across the U.S. in ways which are very hard to imagine .”
Leachman believes that having new hydrogen production in many parts of the country could make hydrogen a more common energy source. People can see the facilities in their own communities, and the jobs that will result from them.
Hydrogen production appears to be on track to become a rapidly growing industry in the United States, and it’s clearly going to affect every part of the country. Goldman Sachs claims hydrogen generation could become a $1 trillion market in the not-too-distant future. Soon, we might be using it to power homes rather than just make fertilizer.