Major utilities form Southeast hydrogen hub coalition

A newly-formed coalition of some of the largest utilities in the U.S. will pursue a “six-state hydrogen hub” in the Southeast and plans to apply for funding from an $8 billion U.S. Department of Energy program.

The coalition includes Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Louisville Gas & Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company (LG&E and KU), Southern Company, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), along with Battelle and others, according to an announcement Nov. 1.

Other members of the group will include hydrogen users from a variety of industries in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Many believe hydrogen is poised to play a major role in addressing climate change. In power generation, the advantages of hydrogen include fuel flexibility through the ability to blend hydrogen with natural gas, fuel security through integration with hydrogen storage and the flexibility to follow loads from variable generation.

Major OEMs like GE, Siemens and Mitsubishi Power have been focusing their efforts on hydrogen combustion in gas turbines, particularly for large-scale generation.

“By working together, the coalition can focus on developing scalable, integrated projects at key locations across the entire Southeast in support of these carbon-reduction goals and encourage the broad-based development of a regional energy ecosystem that will allow members to deploy hydrogen as a decarbonization solution for customers and communities,” said a joint release from the utilities.

Check out a recent episode of the Factor This! podcast that examined the future of green hydrogen, featuring experts from Generate Capital, EDP Renewables, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Subscribe today wherever you get your podcasts.

DOE’s $8 billion regional hydrogen hub program comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed in 2021.

According to program criteria, hubs would need to demonstrate the production, processing, delivery, storage and end use of clean hydrogen.

Hydrogen hubs would be sited in different regions of the U.S. DOE said it envisions selecting between 6-10 hubs at a total of $6-7 billion, depending on the number, quality and funding needs of applications received. The remaining $1-2 billion could be reserved for future hub launches or other supporting activities.

To the maximum extent possible, the DOE would choose projects based on several objectives:

-At least one hub would produce hydrogen from fossil fuels, one hub from renewable energy, and one hub from nuclear energy.

-At least one hub would demonstrate the end-use of clean hydrogen in the electric power generation sector, one in the industrial sector, one in the residential and commercial heating sector and one in transportation.

-Each hub would be located in a different region of the United States and leverage energy resources abundant to that region, including at least two hubs in regions with abundant natural gas resources.

-DOE would give priority to hubs likely to create opportunities for skilled training and long-term employment to the largest number of residents in the region.

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Author: Kevin Clark