Business report

Pennsylvania: ready to be selected as H2Hub

© Shutterstock

An initiative that has overwhelming bipartisan support in Pennsylvania positions the state as a leader in clean hydrogen development and secures its competitiveness as a regional clean hydrogen hub with an investment from the U.S. Department of energy (DOE).

From the federal to the state level and across many industries and stakeholders, support has grown to pave the way for decarbonizing Pennsylvania’s industrial sector with a focus on deploying clean technologies d Hydrogen and Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS).

“If Pennsylvania can achieve the goal of becoming one of our nation’s regional clean hydrogen hubs, we will create jobs and economic growth and lay the foundation for an industrial and manufacturing sector that can continue to be competitive. in today’s economy,” said Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Tom. Wolf said on June 3. “I am delighted to see support for our ambitions continue to grow. I look forward to building on this momentum over the coming months to become a national leader in the clean energy transition. »

Most recently, a bipartisan contingent of Pennsylvania congressional lawmakers, including 15 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and a U.S. senator, joined Wolf this month in a joint pledge to work collaboratively to leverage the state’s competitive position in energy production and industrial sector productivity. become a national leader in clean energy.

“Key to this transition will be the development of a range of innovative and flexible clean energy pathways, including CCUS, clean hydrogen production and the creation of a diverse end-use market for hydrogen. clean hydrogen,” the lawmakers wrote in their June 2 report to Congress. statement. “The signatories to this letter pledge to make these pathways a reality and signal their support for developing the conditions necessary for the Commonwealth to be a leader in deploying these technologies.”

Lawmakers hope the state will be selected as a regional clean hydrogen hub, part of the Biden administration’s plan to create well-paying energy jobs by expanding the use of clean hydrogen in the industrial sector. . And their coordinated efforts are critical, especially since the DOE issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) on Monday to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA), titled “Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs” (H2Hubs), in the September/October deadline.

The FOA will be funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, which includes specific provisions for regional clean hydrogen centers that “will be a network of clean hydrogen producers, potential clean hydrogen consumers and nearby connecting infrastructure,” according to the NOI.

Investing in building the hydrogen economy is a significant portion of the act’s funding to the DOE, which is authorized to spend $8 billion over the five-year period from fiscal years 2022 to 2026 to support development of at least four H2Hubs. The hubs will help achieve the clean hydrogen production standard developed under the Energy Policy Act 2005; demonstrate the production, processing, delivery, storage and end use of clean hydrogen; and will be developed into a National Clean Hydrogen Network to facilitate a clean hydrogen economy, says the NOI.

H2Hubs are essential to the DOE’s strategy to achieve President Joe Biden’s goal of a 100% clean electric grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“Hydrogen power has the power to reduce emissions from multiple carbon-intensive sectors and open up a world of economic opportunity for clean energy businesses and workers across the country,” said the Secretary. energy company, Jennifer Granholm, on June 6. progress toward President Biden’s vision of a resilient grid powered by clean energy and built by American workers.

Many stakeholders across the state are also in favor of Pennsylvania becoming an H2Hub.

“We are committed to collaborating across sectors, with government leaders, businesses and communities, on the policies that will underpin the development of these critically important technologies,” said Marcellus Shale Coalition President , David Callahan, at the Pennsylvania Business Report.

“Appalachia has a rich history of making the world’s goods and delivering the energy we need,” Callahan said, “and we’re on the cusp of a potential energy and manufacturing.”

Hydrogen and carbon capture technologies, for example, hold great promise for dramatically reducing carbon emissions, especially in hard-to-reduce sectors, without sacrificing the energy reliability and affordability that society depends on, said Callahan. “Natural gas already plays a key role in significantly reducing emissions, while driving economic growth, and can be fundamental in establishing the region’s hub,” he added.

In May, Governor Wolf also joined 24 industry, labor and non-profit organizations to sign a statement similar to the Congressional declaration that signals their commitment to take the necessary steps to create a regional ecosystem capable of achieving decarbonisation, the transition to clean hydrogen, and ensuring that the Commonwealth is competitive in attracting investment and creating jobs in all segments of its economy.

Among those who signed the statement are United States Steel Corp., AirProducts and Chemicals Inc., Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Boilermakers Local, Clean Air Task Force, Epcot Crenshaw Corp., IBEW Local, University of Pittsburgh, Mitsubishi Power Americas, and the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce and Industry, among others.

“My administration has worked closely with energy, labor and industry actors across sectors to develop the public-private partnerships needed to address the challenges of decarbonizing the industrial sector and develop the necessary conditions for the Commonwealth to be a leader in the deployment of clean hydrogen and carbon capture technologies,” said Wolf. “We will continue to build on this momentum over the coming months as we pursue these opportunities for major wins for the economy, workers and the environment.”

State lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are also backing the H2Hub plan in Pennsylvania.

For example, State Sen. Gene Yaw (R-23), chairman of the Environmental Resources and Energy Committee, is working on carbon capture legislation related to hydrogen hubs and recently circulated a memo. of co-sponsorship about it in his room.

“We are actively working with the governor’s office, environmental and industry groups to find a way forward on a bill that creates a legal and regulatory framework for clean hydrogen and carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects. that may be developed in Pennsylvania in the future,” Yaw told Pennsylvania Business Report. “Currently, regulatory authority for these projects is held at the federal level with the Environmental Protection Agency. Establishing a Pennsylvania-specific statute is the first step to facilitating further studies of CCS and the feasibility of clean hydrogen in Pennsylvania.

Yaw thinks Pennsylvania is a natural choice for CCS because of the state’s geology and its well-established energy and industrial sectors.

“In addition to the environmental benefits, CCS and clean hydrogen would create jobs, maintain our position as a regional energy leader, and attract billions of dollars in economic investment to Pennsylvania,” Yaw said, noting that he and Wolf agree that Pennsylvania must continue to lead. the path of energy development and together they will find a way forward to place the state at the forefront of this emerging industry.

“There is $8 billion in federal funding to support these projects, as long as we can provide a strong regulatory framework to attract this development,” Yaw said. “Pennsylvania must prioritize energy and climate policies that work in harmony and drive economic growth, create jobs, and make the state an attractive place to live and work for decades to come.”

Yaw, who is currently working out the details of his next bill, said he hopes to formally introduce the bill in the coming weeks.

At the same time, State Rep. Steve Malagari (D-53) introduced House Resolution 178, which urges the Biden administration to designate southeast Pennsylvania as a hydrogen hub.

The geographic diversity requirement of the bipartisan Infrastructure Act calls for at least two hubs to be located in areas of the United States with the greatest natural gas resources.

“Given that Pennsylvania is the second largest producer of natural gas in the United States and that the southeast region of Pennsylvania is home to the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex, a major natural gas hub, I think this region would be an ideal location for the placement of a hydrogen hub,” Malagari said in March when he introduced the resolution.

Such a designation, Malagari said, would help create new jobs and boost the region’s economy, as well as position Pennsylvania as a leader in a new and growing alternative energy technology.