As $7 Billion Hydrogen Hubs Program Advances, Getting The Next Steps Right Is Critical
Statement from Beth Trask, Vice President, Global Energy Transition, Environmental Defense Fund
(Washington, D.C. ) With President Biden’s announcement today of the projects selected for the $7 billion Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program, Environmental Defense Fund is urging hub developers and public officials to ensure that the investment achieves its full potential in the clean energy transition.
In cases where hydrogen is made using fossil fuels, upstream methane emissions can easily undermine the climate benefits. Projects using renewable energy to make hydrogen are counterproductive if they pull those clean resources away from existing users. Hydrogen also has warming effects of its own, meaning operators must minimize leaks and other emissions.
“Hydrogen is a critical path to fuels and feedstocks we need to decarbonize the energy system. It’s essential that we get it right. For hydrogen to help the climate, it needs to be produced, managed and deployed carefully. The next steps in the hub development process are where that starts.
“Making hydrogen from natural gas means leftover carbon dioxide needs to be captured and safely stored in perpetuity, and methane emissions must be controlled much more effectively than they are today. Projects making hydrogen using renewable energy shouldn't be competing with other electricity users who would have to fall back on fossil fuels.
“Hydrogen has powerful warming effects when it’s released into the atmosphere. Preventing leaks and unnecessary venting is essential. Hubs need both strategies and technology to prevent emissions, including a new generation of sensors coming to market to find and fix problems.
“Without proper protections and community engagement, projects could create unfair health and environmental impacts at the local level – such as increasing air pollution or overtaxing water sources. Hub developers must work closely with communities to prevent harmful impacts and create meaningful community benefits.
“Setting a high bar for climate performance is fundamental for the success of these projects.”
— Beth Trask, Vice President, Global Energy Transition, Environmental Defense Fund
The projects now enter a more detailed development and design process, where stakeholders will have the opportunity to integrate these concerns. To help developers, public officials, investors and local communities, EDF created BetterHubs.edf.org — which lays out 10 objectives for co-designing Hub projects in a way that sets a new higher bar for industrial development.
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