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National Hydrogen Roadmap Outlines Strategy For Use Acceleration

Accelerating production and use of clean hydrogen as part of the U.S. strategy to meet climate goals is a focus of the Biden administration, and the Department of Energy recently released a roadmap on what is needed for that to occur.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law contains $9.5 billion for clean hydrogen, and the Inflation Reduction Act provides additional incentives and tax credits for production and use of the fuel. Efforts are ongoing to rapidly improve technologies to produce the hydrogen cleanly, reduce the price of production, build out the infrastructure needed for its distribution, and encourage its adoption as a fuel source for hard-to-decarbonize sectors of the U.S. economy.

The recently released U.S. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap lays out a broad pathway for encouraging the adoption of hydrogen and meeting the goals of the legislation.

Hydrogen is a clean fuel that when burned produces only water vapor. It can be produced in a number of ways. The most common method now is steam reformation from natural gas, but the process creates CO2 emissions. When that process is coupled with carbon capture, so-called blue hydrogen is considered a clean fuel. Hydrogen can also be produced cleanly from water using electrolysis, nuclear energy and other methods.

Using clean hydrogen could slash U.S. emissions approximately 10 percent by 2050. To reach that goal the U.S. should produce about 10 million metric tons of clean hydrogen per year by 2030, and reach 50 million tons by 2050.

The roadmap prioritizes three key strategies to encourage hydrogen’s adoption.

First, it recommends targeting strategic, high-impact uses where limited decarbonization alternatives exist. This includes the industrial sector, such as production of steel, cement, and chemicals, heavy-duty transportation and long-duration energy storage.

Second, the roadmap recognizes that the cost of producing clean hydrogen must be reduced dramatically. The Hydrogen Shot program launched in 2021 has the goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen by 80 percent to $1 per kilogram in one decade. While hydrogen produced with steam reformation can now be produced for $1 to $2 per kilogram, clean production now costs more than $5 per kilogram.

Focusing on regional networks for hydrogen production and use is the third strategy. Federal funding includes $7 billion for the development of six to 10 regional clean hydrogen hubs around the country. These are envisioned as networks to develop clean production in close proximity to high-priority end users, with a shared infrastructure for the fuel’s transport.

The strategy also calls for collaboration across multiple federal agencies, and with industry, academia, national laboratories, local communities and environmental groups.

At least two projects in the Appalachian region are seeking a portion of the federal money for development of a hydrogen hub. The Decarbonization Network of Appalachia Hydrogen Hub (DNA H2Hub), led by Team PA Foundation, is Pennsylvania’s entrant, although the hub is expected to include the tri-state region. West Virginia’s Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2) is another contender. Both have submitted full applications and are under consideration by the DOE. The successful projects are expected to be announced later this year.

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