Clean Hydrogen: A Trend Built for the Long Haul

May 10, 2021

What’s old is new isn’t just true for fashion (and advanced nuclear reactors, for that matter). Hydrogen is making a ferocious comeback with a twist after going out of style nearly a decade ago. Instead of hydrogen-powered passenger cars, the hydrogen hype of today promises a holistic path for power, industrial, and transportation decarbonization.

The American Petroleum Institute was the latest to join the hydrogen bandwagon, identifying the tiny molecule as a big thrust in its new Climate Action Framework. This is the latest of a long line of recent announcements including General Electric’s new hydrogen strategy for its turbine business, Midrex’s direct reduced iron plant in Ohio, and SoCalGas’ demonstration of hydrogen and natural gas blending.

Why Is This Time Different?

The promise of a hydrogen economy has tantalized scientists for decades: a versatile chemical and fuel with no pollution. A technological solution on the level of fusion energy. What makes this recent trend worth paying attention to? The impacts of climate change are becoming tangible, and there has been a sea change in why clean energy technologies are valued. Hydrogen is a unique molecule that has the ability to cross between traditional energy sectors; it intersects electrical, industrial, and transportation applications. Steel plants are already producing low-carbon steel with hydrogen. Amazon and Walmart already use hydrogen at their warehouses to operate around the clock. Hydrogen is already used by data centers as reliable backup power. There are other technologies that can lower the cost of hydrogen that are also on the cusp of commercialization like very efficient, high-temperature hydrogen production being demonstrated at an Xcel Energy nuclear plant.

Commonsense Improvements

While many companies are preparing for hydrogen to play a significant role in the energy economy, there are still some significant obstacles in the way. These can be removed by implementing a few simple policy recommendations.

Read more here.

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