The U.S. Department of Energy will start soliciting proposals for regional hydrogen hub projects, with up to $7 billion in federal funding on the table, White House officials said Sept. 22.
At least a dozen U.S. states and the private sector have already expressed interest in the funding opportunity announcement, which offers grants to develop clean hydrogen infrastructure in up to 10 regions. The program was funded by the bipartisan infrastructure law in 2021, part of a Biden administration push to spur a national hydrogen economy.
"This is a high-priority technology for this administration," Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk said in a press briefing. "And I will say one word about why and that is versatility."
Hydrogen is an energy carrier, with applications in energy storage, electricity generation, transportation and heavy industry. The fuel emits only oxygen and water when combusted, and thus is a carbon-free substitute for natural gas. When produced cheaply, however, hydrogen production is carbon-intensive.
The Biden administration has prioritized lowering the cost of clean hydrogen in the Inflation Reduction Act, authorizing production tax credits of up to $3 per kilogram. In addition, the bipartisan infrastructure law earmarked $8 billion to encourage hydrogen development in the U.S., which has lagged behind European countries. About $1 billion of that will be reserved for future funding rounds, the DOE said.
The hydrogen hub program is one of the largest investments in DOE history, according to the agency.
The program is a "once-in-a-generation opportunity to lay the foundation for the hydrogen economy of tomorrow — one that will lift our economy, protect the planet, and improve our health," Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
The Sept. 22 announcement was well-anticipated. "There is no part of that bill that has gotten more attention and more interest than the hydrogen hubs piece that we're announcing today," Turk said.
Seven U.S. Midwest states were the latest to join forces to bid for the federal funding. The Sept. 19 announcement followed similar state collaborations coming out of the Northeast, Gulf Coast, Rocky Mountains and Pacific Northwest regions.
Applicants have until Nov. 7, 2022, to submit concept papers and April 7, 2023, to submit full applications.
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