Clean energy projects from Pennsylvania to California have been chosen by the Biden administration for a $7 billion program to start making hydrogen fuel. This is an important part of President Joe Biden’s plan to slow climate change.
Biden said that clean hydrogen was important to his plan for the U.S. to have net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. His plan is to build seven regional hubs that will help replace fossil fuels like coal and oil with hydrogen, which burns cleaner, as a source of energy for cars, factories, and power plants.
More than $40 billion in private investment will come from the seven hubs, which include projects in 16 states. They will also create tens of thousands of good-paying jobs, many of which will be union jobs, Biden said Friday at a cargo terminal in Philadelphia, where one of the hubs will be based. He said the news was “transformational” and that it would help build “a stronger, energy-secure economy” and fight “the existential threat of climate change.”
He said, “It’s all part of my plan to make things in America.” California, Washington, Minnesota, Texas, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Illinois are the places where the chosen projects are based. All of them except for California and Texas have projects in more than one state. PA projects are spread out in two different hubs.
Biden signed an infrastructure bill in 2021 that included billions of dollars to develop so-called “clean hydrogen.” This is a technology that businesses and people who support clean energy have long pushed as a way to cut down on the greenhouse gas emissions that fossil fuels cause that warms the planet. Natural gas is often used as a fuel source for hydrogen, which some environmentalists say is not a real solution.
Energy companies say that fossil fuels can be used as long as the projects keep the carbon dioxide they produce out of the air. This is a technology that has not yet been used on a large scale in the real world.
In the new Energy Department program, states and businesses are competing for federal dollars. This program will set up regional networks of hydrogen producers, consumers, and infrastructure. The goal is to make the colorless and odorless gas that already powers some cars and trains more widely available and used.
Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub, which is based in West Virginia, and Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub, which is based in Philadelphia, were two of the chosen. Pennsylvania, which is a key battleground state for the Democratic presidential candidate next year, stands to gain from both projects.
Biden often stops in Philadelphia for official and campaign events, and work unions that are big supporters of Biden are partners in the proposed hub in the Philadelphia area. The hub in West Virginia is home to several large natural gas companies from Pittsburgh that work in the area’s rich Marcellus Shale reservoir. One of these companies is EQT Corp., a natural gas producer that wants its gas to flow through the contentious Mountain Valley Pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia.
This year, Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, worked with the White House to get Congress to approve the $6.6 billion pipeline. He praised the Appalachian hub.
He said of the hub, “This means West Virginia will be the new epicenter of hydrogen in the United States of America.” The hub will get up to $925 million from the federal government. “West Virginia will be at the front of the pack when it comes to building out the new hydrogen market.” The Appalachian hub will go all the way to Ohio and includes a $1.6 billion plant being built in northern Pennsylvania to make hydrogen from natural gas with almost no pollution.
Perry Babb, president of KeyState, which owns and built the Pennsylvania site, said, “This is a big, big deal for… Appalachia in particular, because these facilities are all based in places where coal was king.”
The Mid-Atlantic hub, which is made up of New Jersey and Delaware, will get $750 million. It will use nuclear power, and renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, to split water molecules and make hydrogen. California and Texas have the two biggest projects, and each will get up to $1.2 billion.
In California, the Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems will use biomass and renewable energy to make hydrogen. The project’s goal is to make a plan for lowering the carbon footprint of public transportation, heavy-duty trucking, and port operations. These are some of the state’s biggest sources of pollution and emissions.
“We have to address these intensive industries,” such as ports, aviation, shipping, agriculture, large power plants, and cement and steel plants, in order to reach our lofty climate goals, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday.