Hydrogen’s Promising Impact on Local Communities
While it’s easy to understand the value of clean energy globally, why are renewable resources important for local communities?
It might be difficult to picture what cities and small towns would look like if powered by hydrogen instead of fossil fuels. However, hydrogen is a potential fuel source for household and commercial electricity and holds great promise for decarbonizing transit.
In this blog, we’re breaking down hydrogen’s potential at the local level by discussing how mass transit and quality of life could improve after decarbonization.
We’ll also explore the benefits of bringing hydrogen production projects to local communities and address some of the challenges these projects (and the cities that host them) might face.
Potential Hydrogen Impacts on a Local Scale
The United States still has to cover substantial ground on the road to decarbonization. However, the amount of electricity generated from fossil fuels is steadily decreasing. For example, fossil fuels created just over 78% of all electricity in 2021, but generated only 60% by the end of 2022.
Introducing hydrogen generation to power plants in cities throughout the US could substantially speed up the decarbonization process.
Once hydrogen and the renewables that power its production are manufactured on par with today’s fossil fuels, mass transit systems could become more affordable for cities and taxpayers. Why?
Green Mass Transit
The mass transit sector has already begun to decarbonize in cities around the US. While about 60% of buses run on low-emission alternative fuels, mass transit could become even greener in cities with expanded hydrogen access.
Conversion to hydrogen power would be relatively simple for mass transit systems that already run on electricity, like:
- Elevated railways
- Trams and trolleys
Once hydrogen and the renewables that power its production are manufactured on par with today’s fossil fuel operation, mass transit systems could become more affordable for cities and taxpayers. Why?
- Local hydrogen production could reduce fossil fuels' transit and storage requirements.
- Cities would rely less on fuel suppliers abroad, giving utility suppliers more power over their energy prices.
Improved Quality of Life
Complete integration of hydrogen into a city’s power supply could also improve residents' quality of life in two key areas:
- Noise pollution
- Air pollution
Noise pollution from vehicles is a serious problem in today’s urban environments, as humans and animals alike can suffer physical harm from noise pollution. In addition, the sound generated by vehicle engines is a significant source of noise in cities.
But as internal combustion engines become machines of the past and electric vehicles (fueled by hydrogen and other alternative energy sources) take their place, noise pollution will gradually decrease. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles offer nearly silent operation.
In addition, as alternative fuels with low or zero emissions become more commonplace, air pollution could drastically decline. Air pollution poses a significant health risk in cities worldwide, particularly in East Asia. The transition away from fossil fuels in both transit and industrial operations stands to benefit city dwellers worldwide.
Benefits of Bringing Hydrogen Production to Your Community
We’ve broken down what communities with fully integrated hydrogen power could look like. However, much must be done to make that vision a reality.
Hydrogen can’t become as viable an energy source as fossil fuels until it’s produced at the same (or even larger) scale. To get there, communities nationwide must become hosts for hydrogen production facilities—factories and labs that will convert water and other materials into hydrogen gas.
Bringing hydrogen production projects to local communities could be highly beneficial for host cities:
- Hydrogen production will create job opportunities. Introducing hydrogen production facilities will create jobs for local scientists, industrial experts, and other professionals. It will also attract workers from different cities, who may relocate their families for work.
- Hydrogen production could boost local economies. Like fossil fuels, hydrogen fuels are a valuable asset. Cities could supplement their economies by creating hydrogen fuel and selling it to refueling stations, utility providers, and other energy sector players.
- Hydrogen production would create a nearby energy source. Instead of relying on fossil fuels from foreign sources (or even remote domestic operations), communities with hydrogen production facilities would have access to a reliable energy source right in their own backyard.
Challenges for Local Hydrogen Projects
Communities preparing to introduce hydrogen production facilities will likely encounter some challenges:
- Industrial operations require space. Hydrogen production facilities will take up significant real estate in (or near) communities. Land availability, local land use regulations, and real estate prices could dissuade some hydrogen production companies from building facilities in certain locations.
- Industrial operations are highly visible. When people think of picturesque landscapes, they probably don’t imagine massive industrial plants. Hydrogen production facilities could impact some communities’ visual appeal.
Explore the Possibilities of Hydrogen with FASTECH
Why is it essential to consider renewable resources at the local level? Because when we can visualize the possibilities of life without fossil fuels in our own cities, we get one step closer to turning that vision into a sustainable, green reality.
Ushering in the future of green energy is at the heart of FASTECH’s mission. As energy infrastructure experts, we’re laying the groundwork for a greener world by providing end-to-end renewable energy engineering, procurement, and construction solutions.
Whether you’re looking to build an alternative or future-proof conventional fueling station, the FASTECH team has the expertise to bring your next energy project to life.
If you’re ready to bring greater energy access to your community, contact us to get started.