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Miss. governor, regulators back upstart's envisioned $3B green hydrogen hub

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Miss. governor, regulators back upstart's envisioned $3B green hydrogen hub

  • Author Garrett Hering
  • Theme Energy

Hy Stor Energy LP is partnering with Canadian investment firm Connor, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure Ltd. in seeking to harness the potential of subterranean salt domes in southern Mississippi to store large volumes of hydrogen produced from renewable energy, the companies announced Oct. 19.

The first phase of the Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub is an estimated $3 billion initiative under active development that is scheduled to break ground in late 2022 or early 2023, Hy Stor CEO Laura Luce said in an interview.

"We think there is a hole in the energy sector: How do we store renewables that are 100% carbon-free, and how do we do that for [long] duration? And we're looking to solve that equation," Luce said.

Hy Stor's approach is to create hydrogen through the process of electrolysis, using onsite solar or other renewable energy resources, and to store the energy carrier for days, weeks or months in underground caverns built into naturally occurring salt domes. The product would then be transported to industrial, transportation and utility customers via rail, truck, ship or pipelines, according to Luce.

"The technologies all exist for everything that we're going to do and are technologies that we are extremely familiar with," the CEO said.

"We believe that the green hydrogen sector is nearing an important inflection point and that its growth will contribute meaningfully to the achievement of net zero carbon emissions targets over the coming decades," Matt O'Brien, president of Connor, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure, added in a statement. "The partnership with Hy Stor Energy is a natural evolution of our long-term investment strategy that builds upon our existing expertise in renewable energy."

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Backed by governor, local officials

Other companies are also eying green hydrogen storage projects along the U.S. Gulf Coast, including technology provider Mitsubishi Power Americas Inc. and utility Entergy Corp., building hydrogen's existing use as a feedstock at oil refineries and ammonia plants.

Jackson, Miss.-based Hy Stor is in talks with the U.S. Department of Energy about participating in and helping to fund the project, which has garnered the support of Gov. Tate Reeves, the Mississippi Public Service Commission, boards of supervisors in Perry, Simpson and Smith counties, and other stakeholders.

"I believe that the development of a hydrogen infrastructure in Mississippi will significantly assist our economic development efforts both directly and indirectly," Reeves said in an Oct. 4 letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. "The development of Mississippi Clean Hydrogen Hub will lead to many new manufacturing and industrial jobs in Mississippi."

The governor asked Granholm to support the project with "all available resources."

"We believe that Mississippi is in an excellent position geologically and geographically to be a national leader in the hydrogen energy space," state Public Service Commission Chair Dane Maxwell and Commissioners Brent Bailey and Brandon Presley said in an Oct. 18 letter to Granholm and Jigar Shah, director of the DOE's loan programs office. The commissioners requested support for the Hy Stor project through "any existing or future federal programs."