“Harnessing Hydrogen: Exploring Local and Regional Opportunities in Appalachia” brought together more than 100 participants from industry, academia, government, nonprofit organizations, and the public for a discussion of the potential development of hydrogen energy and carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) and a federally-funded clean hydrogen hub with a focus on the tristate area. The day-long symposium was presented in October by the Center for Energy Policy and Management (CEPM) at Washington & Jefferson College.
A policy brief and the final report summarizing information gleaned from various speakers, as well as the discussion from the breakout sessions, and the policy priorities that the participants believed will be important to move forward the development of a hydrogen hub in this region have now been published on the center’s website, wjenergy.org. It is now available for review and use as a resource by other organizations.
The federal government is now soliciting applications from groups interested in developing clean hydrogen hubs across the U.S., including at least one in the Appalachian region, and has provided $7 billion in startup funding for the projects. Pennsylvania’s entry is the DNA H2Hub project, which is a partnership among the Team PA Foundation, Shell, and Equinor, and will focus on decarbonizing industrial and manufacturing operations in this region using hydrogen. U.S. Steel has expressed interest in being an end user. The DNA H2Hu’s full application to the U.S. Department of Energy is due in early April.
The final report provides an overview of the hydrogen hub concept, the fundamentals of hydrogen energy, and how hydrogen is produced. It further delves into the basics of CCUS, which will be crucial for the development of a hub in the Appalachian region that produces so-called “blue hydrogen” from natural gas with the carbon dioxide emissions captured and stored underground.
Challenges and opportunities of creating a hydrogen hub are summarized from a discussion presented by a panel of industry experts, and the topic of community engagement and ways to include the community early in development planning is also included. Regulatory hurdles that must be overcome at the federal, state, and local levels were also discussed in two panel sessions that included lawmakers, attorneys, economic development specialists, and government officials, and those are also summarized.
The symposium participants believe that continued, early engagement with communities, particularly disadvantaged communities, is paramount, along with several other policy goals, including incentivizing clean hydrogen markets, attracting private capital beyond federal startup funds, and building infrastructure and creating a skilled hydrogen workforce.
The CEPM has been a trusted source of information on this emerging topic and continues to be deeply involved in the ongoing discussions. Further programming on the topic of clean hydrogen hubs and how to encourage and support community engagement is planned in the coming months. The first event will be an April 5 CEPM webinar on the Justice40 initiative aimed at directing investment to disadvantaged communities as part of the recent clean energy funding.