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U.S. picks 7 clean hydrogen hubs, but passes over Southeast bid

The coalition envisions a 6-state Southeast hub for producing clean hydrogen. Partners include major utilities and industrial companies that use hydrogen.
Southeast Hydrogen Hub Coalition
The Southeast Hydrogen Hub coalition envisioned a 6-state Southeast hub for producing clean hydrogen. Partners include major utilities and industrial companies that use hydrogen.

The U.S. Department of Energy and White House on Friday announced $7 billion in funding forseven regional clean hydrogen hubs to speed up the development of clean hydrogen for energy, industry and transportation. Missing from the list was the proposed Southeast Hydrogen Hub that included Charlotte-based Duke Energy, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Atlanta-based Southern Company.

The group had been among the 33 invited to submit final bids for the funding, which comes from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The Southeast bid also included big companies from Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Carolinas. The group said in November that it was seeking $1.25 million, to be matched with private funds. No locations for any facilities were mentioned.

All the winning groups had requested lesser amounts of funding.

In a statement, Duke Energy said it's disappointed, but added that the announcement would not affect its plans for a series of new gas power plants that will also be capable of burning green hydrogen.

Winning bidders included groups in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Ohio; California; the Gulf Coast; Minnesota and the Dakotas; the mid-Atlantic; Illinois, Indiana and Michigan; and the Pacific Northwest.

The energy department said the money will pay to develop "a national network of clean hydrogen producers, consumers, and connective infrastructure while supporting the production, storage, delivery, and end-use of clean hydrogen."

Hydrogen eventually could replace fossil fuels at factories and power plants as well as commercial vehicles and heavy equipment. The energy department says it expects the hydrogen hubs to eliminate 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually — equal to the annual emissions of 5.5 million gasoline-powered cars.

The White House also is touting the projects' plans for creating tens of thousands of jobs and for cleaning up the atmosphere to improve public health.

“Unlocking the full potential of hydrogen — a versatile fuel that can be made from almost any energy resource in virtually every part of the country — is crucial to achieving President Biden’s goal of American industry powered by American clean energy, ensuring less volatility and more affordable clean energy options for American families and businesses,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said in a statement Friday. “With this historic investment, the Biden-Harris Administration is laying the foundation for a new, American-led industry that will propel the global clean energy transition while creating high quality jobs and delivering healthier communities in every pocket of the nation.”

Here's Duke Energy's statement:

"While it is disappointing that the Southeast Hydrogen Hub Coalition was not selected for Department of Energy (DOE) funding, we believe that hydrogen can play an important role in our clean energy transition. Duke Energy will continue to seek opportunities to partner with DOE, peer utilities, and other stakeholders to advance clean hydrogen in ways that will benefit our customers and our communities.

"This decision has no impact on our plans for new hydrogen-capable natural gas plants. The green hydrogen for those facilities would be generated nearby through nuclear and renewable resources – our resource plan is not contingent on a hydrogen hub."

The winning bidders are:

  • Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub: ARCH2, in West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. (Amount requested: up to $925 million)
  • California Hydrogen Hub: Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES). (Amount requested: up to $1.2 billion)
  • Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub:  HyVelocity H2Hub; Texas. (Amount: up to $1.2 billion)
  • Heartland Hydrogen Hub in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. (Amount: up to $925 million)
  • Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub:  MACH2 in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey. (Amount: up to $750 million)
  • Midwest Hydrogen Hub: Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2) in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan. (Amount: up to $1 billion)
  • Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub: PNW H2 in Washington, Oregon, Montana.  (Amount: up to $1 billion)

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.