The LIGH2T Hub, a Texas consortium of academic and commercial partners, received encouragement from the US DOE to submit a proposal for a regional clean hydrogen hub on the U.S. Gulf Coast. LIGH2T stands for “Leading in Gulf Coast Hydrogen Transition”, and the group aims to be a flagship for the growth of clean hydrogen development and utilization in the region and across the U.S.
“Texas has everything it needs to anchor a global leading low-carbon intensity hydrogen ecosystem in the United States,” said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president of energy and innovation at the University of Houston (UH).
The Gulf Coast region offers abundant resources, such as natural gas supply, carbon storage space, and an established pipeline and industrial base. This consortium also benefits from academic leadership from UH Energy and its Center for Carbon Management in Energy (CCME). In addition to expertise in clean energy and hydrogen, this multidisciplinary academic research center focuses on carbon management and the deployment of Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage (CCUS). Other partners include the Southern States Energy Board, Linde, INEOS, and MPLX LP (MPLX) along with 13 supporting companies.
Only six to ten winners will be chosen for funding of up to $1.25 billion from the DOE. 79 different groups applied in November 2022, but only 33 were encouraged to move forward with a full application this spring.
In an analysis of the applicants by RFF, the program scale was the most important factor in favor of the DOE. Ambitious endeavors with larger budgets were more likely to be chosen. This is likely because the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law sets out a vision of regional clean hydrogen hubs, each located in a different region of the U.S. This investment will then be allocated to cover four phases of H2Hub development, from planning, financing, construction, to operation.
The DOE also released a draft of the National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap for public feedback. The roadmap presents an overview of the opportunities for hydrogen production, transport, storage, and use in the U.S., as well as its contribution to decarbonization.
The hydrogen sector now has many more opportunities for federal funding than in past years. The technology has historically been less efficient and more costly than other energy sources, such as wind and solar. Safety is also a concern, and OSHA resources state that it is a highly flammable gas, which can cause fires or explosions if not handled properly. Let us be honest though – no energy production is without its hazards.
While ubiquitous as a component making up 75% of the universe, the process of extracting hydrogen gas from companion substances often requires significant effort and expense – including fossil fuels. However, the DOE Alternative Fuels Data Center claims that there is potential for it to be produced from domestic resources with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. RFF reports that many companies are working to eradicate the traditional method of producing hydrogen with fossil fuels, and consequently removing large quantities of emissions.
It is worth noting that the renewables feedstock status is unknown for the LIGH2T Hub project. An interactive map developed by RFF tracks the feedstocks, end uses, DOE status, and partnership type of the 79 concept papers submitted for consideration.