In a previous blog, we discussed the potential boom for hydrogen should it find a role in meeting the Biden Administration's goal of zero carbon energy usage by 2050. On April 23, 2021, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced both domestic and international clean energy initiatives that include research on hydrogen production, storage, and use.
While ideal for its zero carbon emissions as an energy source, "green" hydrogen is also the most expensive type of hydrogen fuel, which leaves it far from competitive with other sources of energy at the present time. Accordingly, to level the economic playing field, the focus will be on driving these production costs down quickly.
On the international front, DOE announced six clean energy initiatives, including a research effort to be launched June 21, 2021, to reduce the cost of hydrogen by 80 percent by 2030 and make it globally competitive with natural gas.
On the domestic front, while some observers consider this cost goal potentially achievable, they cautioned that it would require substantial technical advances in the use of hydrogen. Further, scaling up the volume of hydrogen use could also require regulatory action, e.g., to allow the construction of new pipelines or the use of existing natural gas lines for transportation. In addition, the electrolytic process to produce green hydrogen would require not only a great increase in the availability of renewable energy, but also a tremendous amount of water, which could potentially be a limiting factor in many parts of the country.
The initiatives are largely bare of details, so it is unclear how realistic the announced goals may be. However, if the bold pronouncements are supported by money and focus, the efforts could lead to major changes in the energy profile for both the country and the world.