The Biden administration announced the release of the U.S. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap, aimed at significantly ramping the production, use and distribution of low carbon hydrogen for use in energy intensive industries and support U.S. decarbonization goals.
Hydrogen is viewed as one of the key building blocks of the transition to a cleaner energy future, particularly for sectors with difficult to abate emissions, in which renewable energy solutions such as wind or solar are less practical.
Around 10 million metric tonnes (MMT) of hydrogen are currently produced in the U.S., and approximately 94 million metric tonnes globally, although the vast majority is extracted using fossil fuels, which create pollutants and GHG emissions. U.S. hydrogen production, for example, is primarily based on extraction from natural gas through steam methane reforming, and currently generates around 100 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year.
The development of clean hydrogen capacity, such as green hydrogen, which uses renewable energy to power the process to extract hydrogen from other materials, will require massive investments in areas including infrastructure, electrolysis, transport and storage.
According to the new framework, the development of large-scale hydrogen production would form “a key part of a comprehensive portfolio of solutions to achieve a sustainable and equitable clean energy future,” and support the U.S.’ climate goals, which include a commitment to achieve net zero emissions economy by 2050, and an interim target to reduce economy-wide emissions by 50-52% in 2030.
The Biden administration has made set clean hydrogen as a key component of its climate strategy allocating $9.5 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to is development, including $8 billion for the development of clean hydrogen hubs targeting the transport and industrial sectors, $1 billion for clean hydrogen electrolysis R&D, and $500 million for hydrogen manufacturing and recycling. The Inflation Reduction Act also includes incentives for hydrogen, including production tax credits.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said:
“Accelerating the deployment of hydrogen is key to achieving President Biden’s vision for an affordable, secure clean energy future. That’s why DOE worked alongside our federal partners to develop the U.S. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap that will lay the foundation for a strong and productive partnership between the public and private sectors and will guide government and industry to realize the full potential of this incredibly versatile energy resource.”
The strategy sets a goal to scale clean hydrogen production and use to 10 MMT by 2030, which could create 100,000 net new jobs in the U.S. through the build-out of new capital projects and infrastructure. By 2050, the framework outlines the opportunity to reach 50 million metric tonnes of clean hydrogen production, resulting in a 10% reduction in U.S. emissions.
Key requirements to realize these opportunities, according to the framework, include lowering the cost of clean hydrogen, building out midstream infrastructure, and increasing demand in specific sectors – particularly those with lacking cost-competitive decarbonization alternatives.
To achieve these goals, the roadmap focuses on three key strategies, including targeting strategic, high impact uses for clean hydrogen, ensuring utilization in the highest value applications for markets such as chemicals, steel, refining, heavy duty transportation and long-duration energy storage; reducing the cost of clean hydrogen, with a goal to reach $1/kg clean hydrogen production by 2030 (compared to around $5/kg today), as well as efforts to address material and supply chain vulnerabilities, and; focus on regional networks, including investments to scale regional clean hydrogen hubs to enable production close to high priority hydrogen users, and to drive scale in production, distribution and storage.
Ali Zaidi, Assistant to the President and National Climate Advisor, said:
“President Biden understands that growing America’s clean hydrogen capability can spur good-paying union jobs, support local economic development, and help decarbonize industries long seen as ‘hard to decarbonize. This roadmap will align the private and public sectors on a shared path to drive faster toward a cleaner, more secure energy future.”