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Rocky Mountain Way - Can Clean Hydrogen Help Replace Coal in the Rockies?

In our view, there are two or three clear leaders in the competition for billions of dollars in U.S. support for clean-hydrogen hubs — for example, it would be hard to imagine the Department of Energy (DOE) passing over hub proposals in Texas, Louisiana or the Marcellus/Utica. At the same time, there’s a lot to be said for plans to develop hydrogen hubs in California, North Dakota and, we might add, the Rockies, a region with extensive energy-related infrastructure and a long list of prospective clean-hydrogen end-users, not to mention at least two projects to convert coal-fired power plants to hydrogen. In today’s RBN blog, we discuss a multistate push to make the Rockies a hotbed of hydrogen-related activity.

As we said in our first blog on hydrogen hubs, a provision in last year’s $1-trillion-plus Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act provides up to $8 billion in federal funding over five years to support the development of at least four such hubs around the U.S. The DOE announced in September that concept papers from hub proponents were due November 7 and full applications by April 7, 2023; winners would be notified in the fall of 2023; and award negotiations with them completed in the winter of 2023-24. We’ve already discussed hydrogen-hub proposals in the Houston area, Corpus Christi, Southern California and Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas, as well as plans for a hub centered in Senator Joe Manchin’s West Virginia and maybe a couple of hubs in the Midwest and Great Plains.

Today, we turn our attention to the Rocky Mountains. Many of us think of the Rockies as God’s country: amazing scenery, fresh air, great skiing and fly-fishing, and mountain-biking and hiking ... well, you get the idea. But the region also has a more practical side, and more than its share of energy production: coal, crude oil, natural gas, refining and, more recently, wind and solar power. It has a surprising number of other industries as well — mining, cement and manufacturing of all sorts. So, it really should come as no surprise that the half-dozen states along the Continental Divide have the critical mass to develop a strong response to the DOE’s ongoing solicitation for clean-hydrogen-hub proposals.

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