Virginia may be looking for hydrogen to play a role in supporting the state's baseload power generation capacity if Governor Glenn Youngkin is successful in repealing and replacing the Clean Economy Act with his pared 2022 Energy Plan.
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The 2022 Energy Plan, which was introduced by the Republican governor Oct. 3, accuses the state's Clean Economy Act -- passed in 2020 under his Democratic predecessor Ralph Northam -- of introducing too much uncertainty into Virginia's energy market and raising concerns over increased costs and reliability.
The Virginia Clean Economy Act mandated a goal of 100% zero-carbon energy generation by 2050 and promulgated a renewable portfolio standard that pushed the state's utilities to retire fossil-based power generation in favor of renewable generation with utility-scale storage. But those goals would be erased under Youngkin's 2022 Energy Plan, which faces the state's Republican-controlled legislature for passage.
"Blindly complying with VCEA exposes Virginia families and businesses to outsized energy costs, risks the reliable delivery of energy, and closes Virginia to innovating energy sources and technologies," the plan says, adding that battery storage systems are cost prohibitive. "While investment in battery innovations is an economic development opportunity that can produce meaningful breakthroughs in the future, a prudent energy plan should not force the retirement of economically viable baseload generation."
While the plan would extend the life of natural gas plants by repealing retirement mandates, it would also direct new investments into clean energy technologies like hydrogen and carbon capture utilization and storage, areas that it says were "ignored" by the VCEA.
"Whether it is nuclear, hydrogen, natural gas, biomass or renewables paired with battery storage, having reliable baseload generation capacity is critical to meeting future energy needs," it says.
Part of the plan's hydrogen focus will include developing a hub for hydrogen testing and deployment within Virginia. The plan refers to work already accomplished by the hydrogen advocacy group Connected DMV, which is pushing for the Virginia, Maryland and Washington metro areas to receive federal funding to become one of at least four regional hydrogen hubs.
The 2022 Energy Plan would support Connected DMV's vision, it says, and would seek to "deploy nuclear and hydrogen energy installations."
The state also has a research base already seeking to advance green hydrogen technology. In August, the University of Virginia received a $3.7 million grant from the US Department of Energy to improve electrolyzer efficiency.
Platts assessed hydrogen produced by PEM electrolysis in the Appalachian region at $5.23/kg (including capex) on Oct. 5. Platts assessed hydrogen produced using alkaline electrolysis at $4.04/kg, while that produced using steam methane reforming was assessed at $1.50/kg, according to data from S&P Global Commodity Insights.
The Appalachian region is a primary producer of Virginia's natural gas.