Scaling Up U.S. Hydrogen: A 360° View – Hosted by EPRI & Hydrogen Forward

December 21, 2021

On Monday, December 13, 2021 the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Hydrogen Forward co-hosted the virtual event, “Scaling Up U.S. Hydrogen: A 360° View.” This hour-long panel, moderated by EPRI’s Vice President of Energy Supply and Low-Carbon Resources Neva Espinoza, drew over 500 registrants and featured panelists Jay Bartlett, Senior Research Associate at Resources for the Future; Traci Kraus, Director, Government Relation at Cummins Inc.; Adria Wilson, Manager, U.S. Policy and Advocacy at Breakthrough Energy; and Lisa Carter, Director, Innovation and Sustainability Technology at Dominion Energy. Panel topics included implications of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, recent developments in the U.S. hydrogen industry, and the public and private sectors’ roles in accelerating the deployment of hydrogen across the nation.

Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act) was a recurring topic, with conversation frequently focusing on hydrogen hub funding and the development of a national clean hydrogen strategy. Cummins’ Traci Kraus lauded the strategy’s inclusion, calling a national hydrogen strategy the “key to unlocking potential in any region” through shared targets for public and private sectors. Kraus shared insights from Cummins’ investments under Europe’s regional and national hydrogen strategies that underscored the value of shared goals for all stakeholders. She asserted that these strategies coordinate public and private resources to support hydrogen economies by emboldening companies to invest “where they know the economy is going.”

Breakthrough’s Adria Wilson also highlighted the bill’s opportunities for public-private partnerships with its $8 billion in hydrogen investments, calling that figure the government’s funding “threshold” as private companies and other organizations further invest their own capital.

U.S. Hydrogen Industry

Panelists also discussed the United States’ current annual hydrogen production of 10 million metric tons and strategies to decarbonize those processes while scaling newer, renewable production methods. To address these dual challenges, Wilson argued policymakers and industry must think about the entire hydrogen value chain and the major gaps between current production and stated goals.

Resources for the Future’s Jay Bartlett maintained that hydrogen requires supply and demand incentives to bridge the gap mentioned by Wilson. Hydrogen, like many other new technologies, faces the chicken-or-egg challenge of simultaneously scaling up hydrogen supply and growing demand for end-use. Kraus focused on Cummins’ work in the hydrogen gap pairing existing technology with new innovations to familiarize consumers with hydrogen, so they are quick to adopt once the technology is widely scalable. She specifically highlighted Cummins’ development of internal combustion engines that run on hydrogen as a steppingstone to hydrogen fuel cells decarbonizing transport.

Deploying Hydrogen Across the Nation

The event ended with panelists sharing hydrogen developments they’re looking forward to in the coming decade. While Bartlett cited the production tax credits in the proposed Build Back Better Initiative, Wilson added her own enthusiasm for hydrogen innovation in new sectors. Dominion Energy’s Lisa Carter also shared her excitement about hydrogen pilot projects transitioning to real-world applications. Kraus rounded out the group with her desire for an economy-wide carbon price to create a solid net-zero framework. Moderator Neva Espinoza closed the event on a positive note with her own excitement for overarching coordination among industry to reach those goals.

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