Building Back Better with Hydrogen
It's Earth Day 2021 and President Biden's Leaders Summit on Climate has kicked off, which makes it a good time to think about a cleaner future. The United States is setting its gaze on net-zero emissions -- and will measure the proposals in the Biden Administration's American Jobs Plan to leverage hydrogen as a method to help decarbonize our economy.
Investments in US infrastructure and workforce will be key to unlocking a more sustainable and equitable future for all Americans. And we agree that hydrogen technologies are an essential part of achieving emissions reduction goals and a more sustainable economy. They are part of how we will continue to "Build Back Better." With the right policies, we can ensure that the US does not fall behind globally when it comes to hydrogen technology.
"Hydrogen can enable large-scale, efficient renewable energy integration into the nation's power grids. It can also decarbonize important sectors like infrastructure, transportation, building heating, and utilize the nation's existing pipeline infrastructure for distribution."
Already available technologies allow hydrogen storage, use, and energy transport while generating low or no carbon footprint. As the most abundant element in the universe, all 50 states have the ability to produce hydrogen by a variety of domestic fuel sources, including hydrocarbons, biomass, water, wind, nuclear, and solar. Because of these and additional unique properties, hydrogen can enable large-scale, efficient renewable energy integration into the nation's power grids. It can also decarbonize important sectors like infrastructure, transportation, building heating, and utilize the nation's existing pipeline infrastructure for distribution.
While many industries stand to gain from the use of hydrogen technologies, the transportation sector, in particular, is perhaps the most advanced. Fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs), which run on hydrogen and emit only water, can significantly reduce transportation-related emissions, which account for 28% of all US greenhouse gas emissions. This technology allows vehicles to refuel in minutes rather than hours and is already being used in passenger cars, trucks, busses, forklifts, and other vehicles. It has the potential to revolutionize the way we move around the world with efforts being made to deploy hydrogen as a shipping fuel.
Today, hydrogen is the only zero-emission technology capable of producing the extreme heat necessary for the production of cement, steel, glass, and other industrial materials, making it the ideal energy and storage mechanism to help meet the decarbonization needs of those and other energy-intensive industries. In the power sector, hydrogen can put the US on the path to net-zero emissions while strengthening the nation's grid system.
Already, hydrogen is enabling utilities across the country to harness wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources and incorporate it at scale into the power grid. And when faced with unpredictable weather events, hydrogen will be critical to strengthening the nation's grid system. In fact, fuel cell technologies are already being used by hospitals and other essential services to act as a primary and backup fuel source. Such technologies allow healthcare workers to continue life-saving operations during hurricanes, rolling blackouts, and other emergencies.
"Hydrogen production, manufacturing, fueling, and other end-uses, will accelerate additional hydrogen-related job growth ... One recent study ... found that hydrogen could be more than $130 billion domestic business by 2030 and create 3.4 million US jobs by 2050."
In addition to the climate benefits, accelerating the adoption of hydrogen solutions and related infrastructure across the US will create new, well-paying jobs and help build a resilient economy. Hydrogen production, manufacturing, fueling, and other end-uses, will accelerate additional hydrogen-related job growth down the value chain. As the nation is called to solve some of the biggest and most complex problems of our generation, hydrogen will be a key domestic resource to address climate change and bolster our economy. One recent study from McKinsey & Company found that hydrogen could be more than $130 billion domestic business by 2030 and create 3.4 million US jobs by 2050.
The federal government must continue prioritizing climate policies and establish a clear strategy for hydrogen investment through mass-scale infrastructure, development, and deployment. Equality in our energy system is an important element of a more equitable society. We believe hydrogen technology is key to addressing environmental inequalities, creating jobs, and helping communities that have been, and continue to be, on the front lines of climate change. The United States has the unique opportunity to take a leadership role in the development and integration of hydrogen-related technologies and create a more sustainable and just future for all Americans.
This op-ed has been authored and signed by Toyota, Hyundai, Air Liquide, Anglo American, Bloom Energy, CF Industries, Chart Industries, Cummins Inc., Linde, and McDermott.