Pennsylvania will be the only state in the U.S. to receive benefits from two clean regional hydrogen hubs, and that news was met with excitement and optimism at the Center for Energy Policy and Management’s recent “Harnessing Hydrogen: Exploring Local and Regional Opportunities in Appalachia” conference.
“I really feel (Oct. 13) was the dawn of the clean energy economy,” said Rich Negrin, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection and a speaker at the conference, held just four days after the announcement. A Philadelphia native and former manager of that city, Negrin had worked on the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2) proposal that involves eastern Pennsylvania. MACH2 was one of seven projects across the country selected to share $7 billion in federal funding.
The federal Department of Energy on Oct. 13 announced the successful projects from a pared-down group of 33 that were seeking the funding. The other successful project that will have pieces in Pennsylvania is the West Virginia-based Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2).
The ARCH2 project, which also involves Pennsylvania and Ohio, will use the region’s abundant natural gas to make hydrogen and store the carbon emissions in underground rock formations using carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The project will create 21,000 direct jobs—including more than 18,000 in construction and more than 3,000 permanent jobs. The project will receive up to $925 million to leverage private investment from numerous partners, including Battelle, EQT, and CNX, with several parts of the hub planned for Pennsylvania.
The MACH2 project involves Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey and will produce hydrogen from renewable and nuclear energy. The hub, which will receive up to $750 million, anticipates creating 20,800 direct jobs—14,400 in construction jobs and 6,400 permanent jobs.
Adam Walters, senior energy advisor for the state Department of Community and Economic Development, explained the concept of a hydrogen hub to the center’s conference audience, noting that it is not just one place, but rather an “ecosystem” of interconnected suppliers, production facilities, transportation infrastructure, and end users.
Hydrogen is seen as a clean energy source that can help to reduce CO2 emissions from hard-to-decarbonize industrial sectors and long-distance transportation and help the U.S. meet its climate goals. The H2Hubs are expected to produce three million metric tons of hydrogen annually, reaching nearly a third of the 2030 U.S. production target, and reduce 25 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from end-uses each year.
Walters was involved in Pennsylvania’s unsuccessful application for the Decarbonization Network of Appalachia Hydrogen Hub (DNA H2Hub), spearheaded by the Team PA Foundation, which was seeking a Southwestern Pennsylvania-based network. However, he and others said that this region will still see benefits from the ARCH2 hub project and hope to find ways to take full advantage.
The other selected hub projects include the California Hydrogen Hub; the Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub in Texas, the Heartland Hydrogen Hub in the Dakotas; the Midwest Hydrogen Hub, and the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub. The hubs will produce hydrogen with a mix of clean energy sources including renewables, nuclear, and fossil resources with carbon capture.