Hydrogen hub proposals from groups based in Pennsylvania and West Virginia recently received notices of encouragement from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to submit full applications in the competition for part of $7 billion in federal funding. The Decarbonization Network of Appalachia (DNA) effort led by Team PA Foundation was one of 79 groups around the country that submitted concept papers for the funding. The DNA H2Hub project, which is a partnership among the Team PA Foundation, Shell, and Equinor, and will focus on producing “blue” hydrogen from natural gas using carbon capture to reduce emissions, for use in decarbonizing industrial and manufacturing operations. U.S. Steel has expressed interest in being an end user. The groups seeking funding submitted concept papers in November and the DOE recently sent notices of encouragement or discouragement to each. The DOE gave 33 applicants encouragement, but the remaining 46 that were discouraged can still submit full applications, which are due by April 7. The DOE is to select six to 10 projects to receive the funding this summer. At least one hub is expected to be located in Appalachia. The DOE did not release a list of the groups receiving encouragement, but some of them, including Team PA and the ARCH2 team in W.Va., have announced they received encouragement. The DOE evaluated each project on “criteria that included qualifications, experience, and capabilities; expected contributions toward a national hydrogen network; plans to develop production, end-use, and connective facilities; and the community benefits plan component. This process allows DOE to provide feedback to potential applicants to ensure they are producing the best applications possible and to better understand the types of final applications it will receive,” a release states. The DOE will award the money contained in last year’s bipartisan infrastructure law to spur public-private development of regional clean hydrogen hubs, defined as “a network of clean hydrogen producers, potential clean hydrogen consumers and connective infrastructure located in close proximity” to be sited across the country. Hydrogen is seen as a clean energy of the future that can be used to decarbonize industrial, manufacturing, and long-range transportation operations. Hydrogen can be made from water using electrolysis, with the electricity coming from nuclear or renewable sources, or from natural gas in a process called steam reformation. Carbon emissions are produced in steam reformation, which must be captured and sequestered in geological formations. That technology is in its infancy. “DNA has a shared vision for emissions reduction through large-scale deployment of clean hydrogen and carbon capture and sequestration projects located in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Appalachia has long played an important role for energy production and manufacturing in the United States and the region remains a center of steel, plastics, and refining operations, making it an optimal location to build-out clean hydrogen infrastructure,” a press release states. The second regional group seeking funding, the Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2), also announced it has received encouragement. It is backed by the state of West Virginia, EQT Corp., the nation’s largest natural gas producer, Battelle, and GTI Energy. That project is expected to be centered in West Virginia while expanding its impact through cooperative efforts in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. “Through a collaboration with experienced industry partners, we will leverage the existing infrastructure and abundant energy resources of the Appalachian region to enable clean, economy-scale hydrogen production,” said Dr. Paula Gant, President and CEO of GTI Energy. “DOE’s encouragement to move forward signals the potential for the ARCH2 hub to make major economic and environmental impacts in a historically underserved part of the country.” A number of other hydrogen hub proposals in other parts of the country also passed the first test, including two in Texas, the top gas-producing state in the nation. The 33 proposals that received encouragement, and likely some that did not, will now submit full applications in the competition for hydrogen hub funding.
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