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Senate hearing addresses $8 billion for clean hydrogen R&D hubs

February 17, 2022
By: Ashwin Shenoy

This week, the Senate energy committee discussed new funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) implementation of hydrogen research and development projects using funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The infrastructure act provides DOE with $8 billion to create four regional clean hydrogen hubs, as well as $1 billion for clean hydrogen electrolysis demonstration projects and $500 million for R&D on the manufacturing processes and recycling methods for clean hydrogen development. During the hearing, witnesses spoke to the importance of innovation for helping to drive down costs while creating economic opportunities, and a DOE representative announced a forthcoming request for information (RFI) on the programs.

Sen. Joe Manchin, chairman of the committee, in his opening remarks cited the important role that clean hydrogen can play in decarbonizing many sectors of the economy such as energy and transportation. However, he addressed the costs associated with clean energy, such as production costs that are higher than alternative sources and the large investments necessary from both the public and private sectors. The witness panel covered how this can be tackled through R&D and investments into clean hydrogen.

Sunita Satyapal, director of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the Hydrogen Program coordinator at DOE, announced that the DOE will be releasing a RFI regarding the clean hydrogen areas covered by the programs specified in the infrastructure act. He testified that a current industry roadmap has projected the potential for 700,000 jobs in the hydrogen sector of the U.S. economy, with a revenue of $140 billion by 2030. Michael J. Graff, chairman & CEO at American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc., also referenced this roadmap, stating that by 2050, clean hydrogen could account for at least 3.4 million jobs and over $750 billion in revenue. Funding from DOE has led to over 1,100 patents in clean hydrogen, with 30 of these reaching commercialization. Additionally, there are 65 technologies that have the potential for reaching commercialization in the coming years.

Glen Richard Murrell, executive director of the Wyoming Energy Authority, cited the importance of growing the role of clean hydrogen in the energy sector for his home state of Wyoming. Murrell argued that Wyoming would benefit economically from the development of clean hydrogen as an energy source while allowing high population centers such as Denver and Salt Lake City to achieve their low emissions targets. Brian Hlavinka, vice president of Williams New Energy Ventures, said that hydrogen capabilities can be blended into existing transmission pipelines, which is one project that the venture fund is actively working on. Jonathan Lewis, senior counsel and director of transportation decarbonization at the Clean Air Task Force, also stressed the importance of achieving net-zero emissions, saying that the focus must be across multiple industries aside from energy – such as heavy surface transportation, shipping, and aviation.

More information on this Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources hearing can be found here. Information on the Feb. 17 hearing on clean hydrogen R&D by the House Subcommittee on Energy, which is part of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, can be found here.

clean energy, dept of energy, congress