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Mississippi hub pitches itself as a 'Strategic National Hydrogen Reserve'


MCHH is 22nd confirmed hub applicant

Hub leaders highlight state's geologic endowments

  • Author
  • Brandon Mulder
  • Editor
  • Debiprasad Nayak
  • Commodity
  • Energy Transition

The Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub has added its name to the growing list of publicly-known contenders vying to become one of the Department of Energy's clean hydrogen hubs, and its pitching storage as its primary selling point.

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On May 11, the leading partner of the Mississippi hub effort, Hy Stor Energy, belatedly announced that it had submitted an application to the DOE before of its April 7 deadline. It is the 22nd confirmed hub applicant, and the fifth in the Gulf Coast region. The process will ultimately award up to $1.25 billion to between six and 10 finalists.

The hub, which would span 76,500 acres, aims to produce 150 mt/d of clean hydrogen by 2030, then scale that production capacity ten-fold as demand increases, Hy Stor CEO Laura Luce said. Unlike the four other Gulf Coast-based applicants, it will exclusively produce renewable-based green hydrogen.

But the hub's major appeal is its vast storage capacity. Mississippi's geological endowments – a network of underground salt domes – is the foundation of the hub's proposal.

Already, Hy Stor is constructing multiple caverns that will initially provide a storage capacity of 30,000 mt. With additional federal funding, the Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub could multiply that capacity and position it "to serve as a Strategic National Hydrogen Reserve," Hy Stor said.

"The foundation of the MCHH project plan is the distinct geology of Mississippi, which hosts a significant amount of the unutilized salt cavern underground energy storage capacity available for development in the US," the announcement said. "The MCHH will be organized around purpose-built underground salt dome hydrogen storage networks that will offer economical large-scale, long-duration energy storage."

In addition to bringing jobs and economic development to Mississippi, which ranked last in per capita real GDP in 2021, the hub will help decarbonize the state's existing industries while attracting new ones, Hy Stor said. It would also promote the development of new transit corridors across the Gulf Coast and into the Midwest via rail, road and inland waterways.

Hy Stor Energy initially began digging its feet into Mississippi since 2021, when it announced a $3 billion green hydrogen production and storage complex in the region. The project, which will generate around 110,00 mt/year of green hydrogen, is expected to begin operations in 2025 regardless of the DOE's hub funding decision. While federal hub funding would help this project expand storage to at least 30 more caverns, a company spokesperson said that scaling storage capacity "isn't contingent solely upon those funds."

Platts, part of S&P Global Commodity Insights, assessed alkaline-based green hydrogen along the Gulf Coast at $2.02/kg (including capex) May 9, while PEM-based hydrogen was at $2.86/kg.

Hydrogen hub selection process

The DOE is now in the process of vetting the 22 or more applications it has received since its April 7 deadline. The ultimate winners of the hydrogen hub selection process, each of whom are eligible to receive up to $1.25 billion, may not be ultimately known for some time. The application period that concluded on April 7 leads into the first phase of the selection process, in which the DOE will dole out up to $20 million to hubs with a 50% cost matching requirement following a merit review process. That phase will span 12 to 18 months.

Awardees then move into a "negotiated go/no-go" process before advancing to phase two, where they can receive up to 15% of each hub's total requested amount. This phase can take up to two to three years.

Once in phase three, the DOE will begin releasing the remaining 85% of federal funding on an undefined schedule while closely monitoring each hub's implementation process -- a stage that could take two to four years. In the final fourth stage, hubs will transition to their operational stage.