Will the Hydrogen Hubs program bring more green hydrogen to fuel cell truck makers, helping to free long haul truckers from the shackles of diesel and natural gas or more likely, or is $7B for Hydrogen sheer folly? CleanTechnica penned an article in Oct 2023 that H2 Trucks Won Big, yet not less than 6 months prior a Michard Barnard article says H2 is dead in the water for transportation – from cars to ships. See the article on the top 10 reasons H2 is a non-starter for transportation.
Is $7B for Hydrogen Sheer Folly But Good Politics?
The $7 billion announcement from the Department of Energy Hydrogen Program aims to ramp up green H2 production across the US and drive costs down to $1/kg by 2030. Currently, about 95% of the hydrogen produced in the US comes from natural gas (black H2). The inclusion of fossil fuel in some programs is clearly a tip to the politicians and districts the politicians come from, rather than based on merit.
What Will Hydrogen Be Used For?
Hydrogen hype is high. Some suggest it has multiple uses, but the most obvious is to replace the existing use of black or grey hydrogen for feedstock or hard-to-abate sectors.
Michael Liebreich suggested a view of the uses of hydrogen as a hydrogen Ladder. A Swiss Army Knife is an alternative viewpoint explaining hydrogen uses.
An alternative view is the Swiss Army knife. Proposed for all applications. Useful for only a few.
Hydrogen for Trucking
Attention has focused on hydrogen fuel cell electric trucks for 3 reasons.
- Fuel with hydrogen in about the same amount of time as pumping diesel into a fuel tank
- Longer range – supposedly 1,000 miles / 1500km
- Lower Emissions using green H2, not diesel.
With Class 8 trucks, fuel cells have the potential to provide for longer range while weighing less and taking up less space than the equivalent in battery packs.
These arguments are now patently wrong. Tesla with their trial program with Pepsi have demonstrated long-range, fast mega chargers and markedly reduced costs.
Nikola’s ground-breaking hydrogen fuel cell electric truck features a range of up to 500 miles and an estimated fueling time as low as 20 minutes, but that is little different to Tesla’s Semi of 350 mile range and 30-minute charge.
H2 filling stations globally are 685. Nikola and others are adding a few more.
7 Hydrogen Hubs Funding from DoE Department
On Oct 7th 2023, the DoE announced $7 billion for 7 hubs (H2Hubs). These are set up to achieve the Hydrogen Shot goal of $1 per kilogram within a decade. The H2Hubs will build on and work in concert with ongoing RD&D efforts in DOE’s Hydrogen Program, which includes the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office (HFTO) and other offices throughout DOE.
- Appalachian Hydrogen Hub (Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2); West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania) ARCH2 leverages the region’s ample access to low-cost natural gas to produce low-cost clean hydrogen and permanently store the associated carbon emissions. (Carbon capture and storage is a scam – see this article)
- California Hydrogen Hub (Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES). ARCHES is exclusively on biomass sources and green hydrogen pushed from water by electrolysis systems, to be powered with renewable energy. Not H2 from methane gas.
- Midwest Hydrogen Hub (Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2); Illinois, Indiana, Michigan) The Midwest Hydrogen Hub will enable decarbonization through strategic hydrogen uses including steel and glass production, power generation, refining, heavy-duty transportation, and sustainable aviation fuel,
- Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub (HyVelocity H2Hub; Texas). The HyVelocity project in Texas focused on both electrolysis and natural gas for its winning Hydrogen Hub proposal. (CCS – see above)
- Heartland Hydrogen Hub (Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota) – H2 for fertiliser
- Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub (Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2); Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey) — The Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub will repurposing historic oil infrastructure and using existing rights-of-way. Develop renewable hydrogen production facilities from renewable and nuclear electricity.
- Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub (PNW H2; Washington, Oregon, Montana) — The Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub plans to leverage the region’s abundant renewable resources to produce clean hydrogen exclusively via electrolysis.
ARCH2, West Virginia made the un-natural gas list. Probably it was spelt M-A-N-C-H-I-N.
The Ohio is spelt V-A-N-C-E and J-O-R-D-A-N. Various items of expenditure added to the IRA enabled passage of the bill with the H2 and gas lobby placated.