California becomes latest state to form hydrogen hub

California Governor Gavin Newsom speaks at the Presidio Tunnel Tops before the signing of a new climate agreement with Oregon Governor Kate Brown, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and British Columbia Premier John Horgan in San Francisco, Thursday, Oct. 6, 2022. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

California announced it is forming a partnership with the City of Long Beach, the University of California, other state and local entities, and private companies to apply for part of the $8 billion the Department of Energy plans to provide to develop regional hydrogen hubs.

State officials gathered outside of Long Beach city hall Thursday to laud the union, which would accelerate the deployment of clean, renewable hydrogen projects and infrastructure. The fuel would help supplement renewable energy sources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and advance a zero-carbon economy in the state.

It was the latest in a string of hydrogen hub announcements from states across the country.

“Thanks to President Biden and Congress, there’s billions of dollars, including up to $1.2 billion for our application that will allow us to leverage billions more dollars in private investment to really make this hydrogen hub a reality and to begin to change the ecosystem of our economy here in Southern California,” said Dee Dee Myers, the former Bill Clinton administration staffer who now leads the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development.

California is already one of the top three U.S. hydrogen producers, according to DOE. Louisiana and Texas are the other two leaders. Almost all of it is used for refining petroleum, treating metals, producing fertilizer, and processing foods.

The hydrogen hub, known as Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems or ARCHES, will help California reach its goal of getting to net zero emissions by 2045, per a draft plan released in May by the California Air Resources Board.

The Department of Energy recently issued a notice of its intention to spend up to $7 billion of the $8 billion hydrogen funding pot to finance up to 10 regional hydrogen hubs. The grants could provide as much as $1.25 billion per project.

Myers’ comments came as California Gov. Gavin Newsom was in San Francisco to sign a climate agreement with Washington, Oregon and the Canadian province of British Columbia. First signed in 2016, the renewed Pacific Coast Collaborative agreement will help the region address climate change in a unified manner.

“[W]e seek to share best practices, we seek to compete … from jurisdiction to jurisdiction with one another, but in an enlightened sense,” Newsom said at the event.

But Newsom also said the pact is an economic development engine.

“This is about economic power,” Newsom continued, adding that the electric car alone is a trillion-dollar industry.

“We’re not going to cede that to other jurisdictions, other parts of this country and globe,” he said. “We want to dominate that.”

California is the latest in a growing list of states to set up organizations that will put them in line for federal hydrogen dollars.

This week, North Dakota, Minnesota, Montana and Wisconsin signed a memorandum of understanding to develop the Heartland Hydrogen Hub.

“By bringing together our expertise in agriculture and energy production, we can create a world-class hydrogen hub and do even more as states to feed and fuel the nation and the world,” North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) said in a statement.

Last week, seven states agreed to form the Midwestern Hydrogen Coalition. Those included Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

In August, Maine and Rhode Island joined a consortium of states led by New York to develop a hydrogen hub. Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey make up the rest of the states in the group.

Mountain West states are also getting in on the act. Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico signed a pact in February to develop a hub.

Hydrogen generates electrical power in a fuel cell, emitting only water vapor and warm air. It can be used to power homes and factories, as well as cars, trucks and other forms of transportation, according to DOE. Hydrogen can also be used to store, move, and deliver energy produced from other sources.