WASHINGTON – Today the Department of Energy (DOE) unveiled the recipients of its much-awaited hydrogen hubs program (H2Hubs). After receiving nearly 80 concept papers, President Biden and the DOE announced that the $7 billion funding stream created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be split between 7 projects across multiple states. The projects will include a mixture of green hydrogen produced by renewables, blue hydrogen produced by natural gas with carbon capture, and other fuel sources including nuclear power and biomass. More information on the locations, jobs, fuel sources, intended uses for the hydrogen in each hub, and size of the awards can be found here.
“This is the first glimpse of what a hydrogen market will look like, and the stakes couldn’t be higher,” said Erik Kamrath, federal hydrogen advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “This provides an exciting stimulus for green hydrogen but includes a concerning focus on blue hydrogen and diverting clean energy sources that are currently powering our homes which will make it a steeper path to align hydrogen to U.S. climate goals. We need the strictest possible guardrails to mitigate the risk of hydrogen stalling climate progress and perpetuating pollution and public health risks for communities on the frontline of the climate crisis.”
The hubs program is the largest DOE demonstrations program to date, designed to catalyze a U.S. clean hydrogen market and unlock private investment in this nascent technology. At the same time, advocates, companies, lawmakers, and agencies are hard at work shaping the distribution of the significantly more sizable 45V tax credit from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), containing billions of dollars in uncapped clean hydrogen tax credits, to ensure America’s hydrogen footprint is aligned with climate goals and community needs. Treasury is set to publish guidelines for implementing the credit by the end of the year.
“We need strong guardrails to ensure that U.S. hydrogen does not create an emissions mess, and that we are not subsidizing hydrogen that is clean in name only. In light of the selections today, getting the IRA clean hydrogen tax credits right is now an absolute imperative for the administration. Weak Treasury guidelines will severely compromise any climate benefits from the H2Hubs,” said Kamrath.
Earlier this year, a group of environmental groups, community groups and environmental justice organizations sent a letter to Secretary Granholm calling for greater transparency and community participation around the design and implementation of the hydrogen hubs program.
“The process to distribute a pot of money this big with the potential to shape entire industries and state economies shouldn’t be a black box,” said Pete Budden, hydrogen advocate at NRDC. “Early, proactive community engagement is not only good governance, but it’s good policy design that improves projects. Thus far, transparency in the administration of the hubs program has been sorely lacking. Community support should be a ‘must-have,’ not an afterthought, and early stakeholder engagement and community review are critical to achieve it.”
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Established in 1970, NRDC uses science, policy, law, and people power to confront the climate crisis, protect public health, and safeguard nature. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, Beijing and Delhi (an office of NRDC India Pvt. Ltd). Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.