Hydrogen will play a key role in solving the climate crisis, supporting a transition to net zero emissions and realizing a sustainable and clean energy future. As a versatile energy carrier and chemical feedstock, hydrogen offers many advantages and the ability to leverage renewable, nuclear and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage. It can also be used as a fuel or as a raw material for applications that do not have competitive and efficient clean alternatives.
In September 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a draft report providing an overview of hydrogen production, transportation, storage, and use in the United States and opportunities for clean hydrogen to help decarbonize and reduce emissions. Under the bipartisan Infrastructure Act, the DOE was required to develop and publish a technologically and economically feasible National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap to facilitate the production, processing, delivery, storage and large-scale use of clean hydrogen. The DOE is required to update this strategy and roadmap every three years.
The draft report identifies several opportunities for clean hydrogen to support the transition to net zero. Sectors that are harder to decarbonize with traditional approaches should be priority markets for clean hydrogen. These sectors include steel and chemical manufacturing, heavy transportation, and the production of liquid fuels for marine and aviation applications. The development and increasing use of fuel cell powered forklifts has paved the way for fuel cells in the trucking industry, especially for heavy-duty fleets, long-haul (>500 mile) routes, and trucking operations. several teams that require quick refueling, as well as for buses.
Hydrogen is also expected to be an essential raw material for the production of liquid fuels for the aviation, rail and marine sectors and for the production of biofuels from biomass (e.g. aviation fuels durable). In addition, hydrogen should play a key role in the decarbonization of the steel and chemical markets. However, challenges such as the lack of hydrogen infrastructure and large-scale manufacturing, cost, durability, reliability and availability will need to be addressed.
The draft report identifies the following key strategies that the DOE will implement to ensure that clean hydrogen is developed as an effective decarbonization tool and delivers maximum benefits to the United States:
- Target strategic, high-impact uses for clean hydrogen to ensure clean hydrogen will be used in higher value applications and reach 10 million metric tons per year of clean hydrogen by 2030.
- Reduce the cost of clean hydrogen and enable $2 per kilogram by electrolysis by 2026 and $1 per kilogram by 2031.
- Focus on regional networks, including deploying at least four regional hydrogen centers to enable large-scale production and end-use of clean hydrogen in close proximity to each other and accelerate scale.
To support these key strategies, the DOE will continue to advance research, development, demonstration, and large-scale deployment (RDD&D) efforts to reduce costs toward the Hydrogen Shot goal of lowering the cost of clean hydrogen. to $1 per kilogram in a decade. He focused on fostering partnerships between industry, universities and national laboratories to study and advance technologies and innovation. Examples of DOE consortia and initiatives include the H2NEW consortium on electrolyser technologies, the M2FCT consortium to advance fuel cells for heavy-duty trucks, the Hydrogen Materials Compatibility Consortium (H-Mat) and other R&D projects and demonstrations funded by previous solicitations.
The short-term action items that the DOE seeks to achieve by 2025 include:
- Lay the regulatory foundation for large-scale clean hydrogen deployments in production, processing, delivery, storage and end use
- Development of simplified guidance on hydrogen pipeline and large-scale project permits with stakeholder engagement and consideration of environmental, energy and equity priorities
- Evaluation of the compatibility of pipelines and components with hydrogen and mixtures of hydrogen with natural gas
- Establish a clean hydrogen standard
- Demonstrate clean hydrogen production technologies from multiple pathways including pyrolysis, waste, renewables and nuclear
- Initiate the transition to clean hydrogen for hard-to-decarbonize industrial applications and identify specific locations for potential scale-up (e.g. ammonia, refineries, steel)
- Support demonstrations and infrastructure in markets, including forklifts and other material handling equipment, refineries, transit buses, long-haul heavy trucks, heavy machinery in mining, construction and agriculture, and ammonia production
- Reduce the cost of large-scale electrolysers through RDD&D on fabrication, chimneys, and plant balance components and the cost of thermal conversion technologies through RDD&D on modular designs and scale-up process
- Develop high-throughput hydrogen delivery technologies for heavy-duty vehicles
- Advance efficient end-use technologies (fuel cells/other low- or zero-emission energy conversion) and down-selection for scale-up
The DOE said its funding has already resulted in more than 1,100 hydrogen and fuel cell patents, 30 commercial technologies and more than 65 technologies that could be commercial in the next few years. In terms of funding currently available, the bipartisan Infrastructure Act has allocated $8 billion for the development of regional clean hydrogen centers, which we discussed in a previous blog post, and $1 billion for the clean hydrogen electrolysis program, which will improve efficiency and cost. the efficiency of electrolysis technologies by supporting research, development and demonstration through to commercialization and deployment to enable $2 per kilogram of clean hydrogen from electrolysis by 2026.
It has also allocated $500 million to clean hydrogen manufacturing and recycling RDD&D activities to support the manufacturing of clean hydrogen equipment. These funding opportunities will continue to drive investment in the production, storage, transportation and end uses of clean hydrogen.
The DOE is inviting comments on the draft report, which are expected by December 1, 2022.