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Gulf Coast Highway - Greater Houston's Vision for a Texas-Louisiana Hydrogen Hub

One of the biggest, most important steps in the U.S.’s ongoing energy transition will be the selection and build-out of at least four new clean hydrogen hubs –– development supported to a significant degree by an $8 billion commitment in last year’s bipartisan infrastructure bill, which was signed into law by President Biden in November. Surely there will be a lot of angling among states and regions to land big chunks of that federal money, but it’s a safe bet that one of the new hydrogen hubs will be located along the Texas-Louisiana coast. After all, this stretch of low-lying land not only boasts the U.S.’s highest concentration of existing hydrogen production and consumption, it also offers an extensive network of hydrogen pipelines, easy access to vast amounts of natural gas and renewable power, scores of potential sites for underground hydrogen storage and carbon sequestration, and a slew of marine terminals for exporting hydrogen-packed ammonia to global markets. Best of all, perhaps, the region has the human capital to make a new energy hub happen — heck, look at the infrastructure and markets the folks and companies between Freeport and Lake Charles have already developed for crude oil, natural gas and NGLs. In today’s RBN blog, we begin a detailed look at the federal government’s push to advance clean hydrogen as a fuel of the future and the Houston-led effort to make the western Gulf Coast a buzzing center of hydrogen-related activity.

It's clear by now that the transition to a lower-carbon economy in the U.S. and around the world will be an “all of the above” kind of thing, involving everything from wind, solar and nuclear power to battery storage, electric vehicles and fuel cells. And don’t forget hydrocarbons, whose climate impacts can be reduced by blending with renewable fuels or other means — or mitigated (partially or even fully) with carbon offsets and carbon sequestration. Then there’s clean hydrogen, the focus of this blog series (and RBN’s weekly Hydrogen Billboard), whose development the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has deemed crucial to meeting the Biden administration’s goals of a 100% clean electric grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

As we said, to propel the clean-hydrogen market forward — much like the federal government did with wind and solar power in the 2000s and 2010s — the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act enacted seven months ago provides a total of $8 billion over five years to support the development of at least four regional clean hydrogen hubs that the DOE will select by May 2023. [The new law also sets aside an additional $1 billion to back efforts to reduce the cost of producing clean hydrogen from water via renewables-powered electrolyzers to $2/kilogram (from the current $4-plus/kg) by 2026, and another $500 million to help advance equipment manufacturing technologies and techniques for clean hydrogen processing, delivery, storage, etc.]

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