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The Contenders, Part 4 - Unveiling the Full List of Survivors of the DOE's Hydrogen Hub Cutdown

Considerable time and effort has been spent tracking the federal government’s plan to spend billions of dollars to create a number of regional hydrogen hubs. News about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) hub-selection process has been hard to come by, especially since the potential applicants weren’t publicly disclosed at the time of the agency’s informal cutdown in late 2022 and many potential developers, for competitive reasons, have elected to play their cards very close to the vest. In today’s RBN blog, we’ll publish the DOE’s full list of 33 encouraged proposals for the first time, examine some of the plans that were combined in an effort to produce a stronger joint application, and share a little about the concept papers that didn’t make the DOE’s informal cut.

The U.S. has made clean hydrogen a priority, with the federal government’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) initiative intended to accelerate the process. As we noted in Part 1 of this series, the DOE opened up $7 billion in funding in September 2022 for the development of several hubs. For the first stage of the hub-selection process, the DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstration (OCED), which will administer the hydrogen-hub funding, required interested parties to submit concept papers about their planned projects. Of the 79 papers that were submitted, 33 were encouraged at the end of 2022 to submit a full application by the April 7 deadline. (Also note that projects that were encouraged to submit a full application were not required to do so, and projects on the discouraged list were still eligible to submit a full application.)

Clean hydrogen can be produced in a few different ways. It can be made by running water through nuclear- or renewables-powered electrolyzers, yielding hydrogen and oxygen. Separately, low-carbon hydrogen can be produced by running natural gas through SMRs or ATRs — steam methane reformers and auto-thermal reformers, respectively — and capturing and sequestering most of the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, resulting in low net lifetime greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. A clean hydrogen hub, then, is “a network of clean hydrogen producers, potential clean hydrogen consumers, and connective infrastructure located in close proximity.” In our initial blog we were able to identify more than half of the projects that were encouraged by the DOE to submit a full application.

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