Hydrogen Can Reduce Dependency on Foreign Oil

May 3, 2022

This is repost from Orlando Sentinel article, FINAL EDITION Friday, April 29, 2022

Guest Columnist: By Cody Bateman

The current turmoil in global oil markets is not a new phenomenon. For decades, unpredictable supply, pricing and availability driven by both natural and political phenomena have been built into our global reliance on oil. Today’s chaos is a worldwide wake-up moment, and high time for the United States to accelerate its embrace of hydrogen. Building a hydrogen economy is not political. It is not green vs. not green. It is urgent, now more than ever.

Due to the current and dramatic increase in the price of petroleum products in Europe, for the first time, green hydrogen solutions are on par, if not less costly, than other fossil fuel alternatives, as noted in a speech given by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at a recent energy industry event held in Brussels. Even though this current spike may be temporary, it is a tipping point for the future.

History tells us that the energy turmoil going on today will not be the last time we see this kind of interruption. That is why it is critical that the United States catch up to the hydrogen economy’s rapid growth in Europe and Asia by starting to build a nationwide hydrogen infrastructure immediately.

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) recently provided an update to its Hydrogen Shot- a framework and foundation for clean hydrogen deployment in the American Jobs Plan – at a meeting on Feb. 22, convened to discuss “Hydrogen Provisions in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”

Announced in June, the DOE’s Hydrogen Shot stated its goal to cut the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per one kilogram of clean hydrogen in one decade. Since then, the DOE has awarded $64 million for a range of clean hydrogen projects. Kelly Speakes-Backman, head of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) for the U.S. Department of Energy, noted that her team has requested, for fiscal year 2022, $400 million for hydrogen work, which is approximately 40% higher than last year’s budget.

At the same event, Dr. Sunita Satyapal, Director of the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office and the coordinator for DOE’s Hydrogen Program, spoke to the amount of hydrogen produced today in the U.S. and how much she anticipates in the coming years. “We produce over 10 million metric tons of hydrogen per year in the U.S. mostly from natural gas,” Satyapal stated, “But we see scenarios where we could produce event five times more. If we produced another 10 million metric tons of hydrogen, that would basically double today’s solar and wind deployment.”

Clearly, the US. government is recognizing that hydrogen can help lessen American reliance on oil and fossil fuels. The DOE has even started to establish hydrogen hubs across the country and has already engaged many experts in the industry (note: this author is among the experts the DOE has consulted) Currently, most hydrogen being produced utilizes methane reforming, which utilizes natural gas, but there are advances in new green technology that do not use petroleum based oil or gas. New advances in electrolysis can produce clean, green energy from solar and wind farms as well as nuclear reactors, as noted by DOE leadership. And while hydrogen’s technological advances are promising, there needs to be more education about its potential outside California, the majority of Americans are not aware of hydrogen’s role as an alternative to oil and gas.

There has been recent progress: many states, including Michigan and Texas, are understanding the important role that hydrogen will play in the new green energy future and are starting to have discussions with industry leaders at the highest levels. Thanks to the concerted efforts of the DOE, in partnership with industry and academia, deploying hydrogen and building a hydrogen infrastructure are coming to fruition a lot sooner than most people realize. The rest of the world is realizing this, and here in the U.S., it’s now our time to catch up. Today’s oil crisis is a pivotal moment that is proving the promise of hydrogen; the question is: How will we respond?

 

Cody Bateman is the founder and CEO of GenH2, a Titusville based hydrogen technology company.

 

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