Earlier this year, President Biden announced plans to develop and fund four regional clean hydrogen hubs across the country as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In response, Governor Wolf announced a plan to take action to secure Pennsylvania as the home of at least one of those hydrogen hubs. Like in Pennsylvania’s “shale boom” local governments will play a key role in development.
The Department of Energy describes a hydrogen hub not by its individual components, but as a network of “hydrogen producers, consumers, and local connective infrastructure to accelerate the use of hydrogen as a clean energy carrier”. A hydrogen hub will have all pieces necessary to facilitate that goal.
It is in many ways similar to the systems and infrastructure that came from the “shale boom” natural gas development that Pennsylvania experienced in the 2010s. The creation of a hydrogen hub will likely come with similar challenges experienced in the shale boom, especially for local governments and land owners.
While the hub will be one system, it will be spread across many municipalities in the region, and includes several different types of infrastructure. For that reason, local governments and land owners should be conscious of their role in such development. Like natural gas developers in the region, hydrogen developers will require specific permits, especially related to land use, which will directly involve both municipal governments and potentially land owners. Issues related to rights of ways, eminent domain, the leasing of private and public land, and pore rights related to carbon capture and sequestration will all need to be addressed if Pennsylvania becomes home to a hub.
Though similar to previous eras of energy development in the Commonwealth, hydrogen energy will come with its own new considerations and challenges to be overcome.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $8 billion for the construction of four hydrogen hubs nationwide. Governor Tom Wolf and his administration is currently working to secure Pennsylvania as the home of at least one of the four proposed hubs, working with various stakeholders in the state to lay the groundwork necessary to not only be chosen as a hub location, but also to prepare for hydrogen and other clean energy development more generally.
If you are interested in the potential for hydrogen development in Pennsylvania, I welcome you to join the CEPM on October 4th, 2022 for our free event “Harnessing Hydrogen: Exploring Local & Regional Opportunities in Appalachia”. Harnessing Hydrogen is a daylong event featuring talks by experts from all sectors related to hydrogen energy, panel discussions, and interest-specific breakout sessions.