The Global Race To Establish Hydrogen Hub
As the world increasingly recognizes the need to transition away from fossil fuels in favor of sustainable energy sources, hydrogen emerges as the promising and viable alternative.
As a zero-emission fuel that releases only water as a byproduct, hydrogen has the potential to revolutionize clean, resilient, and cost-effective energy systems. Not to mention it can also outperform mainstream alternatives such as solar and wind in the process.
Recognizing the incredible promise of hydrogen as a clean energy source and the potential benefits of being a first adopter, the race is on. North America and Europe are now competing to establish themselves as hydrogen hubs.
But what is a hydrogen hub?
Today, we’ll review three of the world’s leading hydrogen programs, discussing what role they might play in creating sustainable clean energy infrastructure.
The H2Hubs Program in North America
In 2022, the Biden Administration’s Infrastructure Law and the US Department of Energy developed the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) program.
With more than $7 billion in funds allocated to the program, the DOE is currently planning to establish between 6-10 regional hubs that help cover the production, processing, transportation, storage, delivery, and end-use of hydrogen.
If all goes according to plan, this program will serve as the foundation of a national clean hydrogen network, helping to decarbonize multiple sectors of the economy.
Of the 79 total pre-proposal applicants, we currently know of 22 identified hubs that the DOE encouraged to submit a full application in April of this year. They include:
- Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub
- Obsidian Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub
- Alliance for Renewable Clean Energy Systems (ARCHES)
- Southwest Clean Hydrogen Innovation Network (SHINe)
- Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub (WH2)
- Heartland Hydrogen Hub
- Hawai’i Pacific Hydrogen Hub
- Trans Permian Hydrogen Hub
- Horizons Clean Hydrogen Hub
- HALO Hydrogen Hub
- HARVEST Hydrogen Hubs Coalition
- Mid-Continent Hydrogen Hub
- Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2)
- Northwest Indiana Hydrogen Hub
- Southeast Hydrogen Hub
- Great Lakes Clean Hydrogen Hub
- Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2)
- Decarbonization Network of Appalachia
- Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub (MAHH)
- Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub
- Northeast Hydrogen Hub
Not every hub will have the same intended end use and industry application. For instance, the Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub has intended end uses in industrial, transportation, power generation, and residential and commercial heating sectors. The Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub would focus exclusively on industrial end-usage.
Regardless, the DOE will select 6-10 winners. Each winner will receive up to $1.25 billion in funding, which will then be allocated to renewable energy services such as planning, financing, building, and operating these hydrogen hubs over the next decade.
Germany's Nuclear Plant Closure and Focus on Hydrogen
For decades, nuclear power plants energized Germany, providing tens of millions of homes with cheap, safe, and reliable power. In 2011, Germany obtained 25% of its total electricity from its 17 nuclear reactors.
Last year, Germany sparked controversy as it forged ahead with its regressive plan to close down its final three nuclear plants. This decision was criticized by many environmental experts who warned that wind and solar technologies were incapable of filling the energy gap left in their wake.
To fill the energy void, Germany is investing in capable, green alternatives. Here, hydrogen hubs could be the long-term answer, which is why Germany has fast-tracked its National Hydrogen Strategy.
Germany's stated goal is to become a global leader and exporter of green hydrogen tech. Their plan includes:
- Establishing a domestic market for the production and use of hydrogen.
- Developing a 1,800 kilometer (1,118 miles) hydrogen energy pipeline network by 2027.
- Creating up to 5 GW [gigawatts] of generation capacity, including the offshore and onshore energy generation facilities needed for this.
- Assisting European partners in their own efforts to scale up hydrogen production.
- Doubling electrolysis capacity to 10 gigawatts by 2030.
Australia’s Hydrogen Pipeline
In 2019, Australia released its National Hydrogen Strategy, which sought to establish Australia as a leading producer and exporter of hydrogen in the Asia-Pacific region.
Currently, Australia has 106 active, planned, or operational hydrogen projects in its hydrogen pipeline, comprising approximately $230bn–$300bn in investment. According to Chris Bowen, the Minister for Climate Change and Energy, the pressure to speedily complete these programs is mounting:
“Global hydrogen leaders have caught up to our early lead and are advancing fast. We face determined competition from other countries in the hydrogen race, that also see the hydrogen opportunity and are implementing substantial and practical measures to stimulate their own industry growth.”
By 2030, Australia aims to produce hydrogen at a cost of $2 AUD per kilogram or less. In tandem, experts also aim to:
- Develop at least one regional hydrogen export hub to facilitate international trade.
- Establish a domestic hydrogen industry to supply hydrogen for various sectors, including transport, industry, and power generation.
- Ensure safety and sustainability standards were in place for the production, storage, transport, and use of hydrogen.
The Future is Green (Hydrogen)
The race to be a hydrogen leader is on. As countries around the world move to establish and implement hydrogen infrastructure, they set the stage for a greener and more sustainable future.
At FASTECH, we’re a proud partner in the global decarbonization campaign, helping would-be hubs build renewable energy resilience with green hydrogen. As a leading energy solutions provider, we offer end-to-end renewable energy engineering, procurement, construction, and maintenance expertise.
What does that look like?
Reach out today to learn more about the green hydrogen future.
Energy.Gov Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs. https://www.energy.gov/oced/regional-clean-hydrogen-hubs
Resources.Org. Hydrogen Hubs: Get to Know the Encouraged Applicants. https://www.resources.org/common-resources/hydrogen-hubs-get-to-know-the-encouraged-applicants/
World Nuclear. Nuclear Power in Germany. https://world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-g-n/germany.aspx
CSIS. Germany’s Hydrogen Industrial Strategy. https://www.csis.org/analysis/germanys-hydrogen-industrial-strategy
H2View. Australia hydrogen pipeline accounts for between $230-300bn of investment. https://www.h2-view.com/story/australia-hydrogen-pipeline-accounts-for-between-230-300bn-of-investment/