Hydrogen News from USA (May 2024)

US H2Hubs: Revise 45V guidance to ensure hydrogen investments and jobs

The US Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) selected for a combined $7bn of funding have called on the government to amend the proposed guidance on the Inflation Reduction Act’s (IRA’s) clean hydrogen production tax credit (PTC).


New Hydrogen Regulations Show The Need For IP Protection

27 February 2024

In the dynamic world of renewable energy, hydrogen technology is one of the main pillars of sustainable progress. However, introducing new hydrogen regulations, such as the Internal Revenue Service’s newly released proposed tax credit for clean hydrogen production under Section 45V of the Inflation Reduction Act, is causing a seismic shift in the industry, particularly highlighting the criticality of intellectual property protection.


The Hydrogen Stream: BayoTech to launch two US hydrogen hubs in 2024

BayoTech and Versogen are increasing their investments in low-carbon hydrogen in the United States, while the UK government has announced backing for 11 green hydrogen projects, canceling plans to use hydrogen for household heating.


US unveils clean hydrogen plan, nuclear power role uncertain

The U.S. proposed rules on Friday for how energy companies can access billions of dollars in tax credits for producing low-carbon hydrogen using new clean energy sources but left thorny issues, such as how nuclear power could benefit, uncertain.

The credit will be based on the life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions from the power source used in hydrogen production, and ranges from 60 cents to $3 per kilogram, the Treasury Department said in the 128-page proposal

The uncertainty has concerned nuclear power producers looking to produce hydrogen using their virtually emissions-free electricity. Existing nuclear power is featured in three of the seven hydrogen hubs the Energy Department supports with billions of dollars in public funding. But building new nuclear power is costly and fraught with delays…Streams of clean hydrogen can be produced with electrolyzers powered by wind and solar power, nuclear power, or natural gas with carbon capture that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. Today, the vast majority of hydrogen is produced with fossil fuels with unabated emissions at a fraction of the cost of clean hydrogen…The proposal also states that the clean power must have been sourced from the same region as the hydrogen producer and generated at about the same time as the hydrogen.

 Operators of nuclear power say the credit is necessary to produce hydrogen and help keep their plants open…Constellation (CEG.O), opens new tab, the largest U.S. nuclear power operator, which hopes to build a $900 million hydrogen production facility at an Illinois plant, slammed the proposal.

“If finalized, America will surrender hydrogen and deep decarbonization leadership to China and Europe, both of which have policies that smartly utilize their existing nuclear plants to make hydrogen and speed decarbonization,” Constellation said in a statement.

The proposal also suggests ways that natural gas emitted from landfills, called renewable natural gas, and gas emitted from oil drilling could be captured and used for hydrogen production.


Hydrogen vehicles could finally have their moment

The outlook for hydrogen-powered vehicles is improving after decades of unfulfilled hype, thanks to unprecedented federal support and increased private investment.

Why it matters: Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity by mixing hydrogen and air, with water vapor as the only byproduct. That makes them a promising climate solution — especially as a replacement for noisy, soot-spewing diesel trucks and industrial equipment.

  • They offer a longer driving range than electric vehicle batteries, and refueling is much faster than recharging, so they could be appealing in passenger cars too.

Catch up quick: Despite its reputation as an abundant and pollution-free energy source, hydrogen has failed to take off as a fuel for many practical reasons.

  • For starters, it’s currently derived mostly from natural gas, which undermines its environmental benefits.
  • Cleaner hydrogen, made from renewables, is expensive to produce. Plus, there’s no nationwide distribution network.

What’s happening: Two recent U.S. policy moves to boost hydrogen are resurrecting optimism for fuel cell vehicles.

  • In October 2023, the Biden administration awarded $7 billion from the 2021 infrastructure law to establish seven regional hubs for hydrogen production.
  • In December 2023, the U.S. Treasury Department proposed rules for companies to claim lucrative tax credits for clean hydrogen production under 2022’s Inflation Reduction Act. The IRA also includes tax incentives for fuel cell vehicles, hydrogen infrastructure and energy storage.
  • The Biden administration expects all that government spending to spur tens of billions more in private hydrogen investment.

The latest: General Motors and Honda have started producing fuel cells at a factory near Detroit, to power a new plug-in hybrid fuel cell version of Honda’s CR-V crossover utility coming this spring.

  • They’ll also go into a line of hydrogen-powered cement mixers, dump trucks, garbage trucks and more that GM is developing with Autocar Industries, a heavy truck manufacturer.
  • And GM has a new joint venture with Komatsu to develop fuel cell-powered mining trucks.

Other truck manufacturers are also bringing fuel cell trucks to market, including Toyota, Hyundai and the startup Nikola.

  • Cummins has its own twist: It’s developing hydrogen combustion engines, which burn hydrogen instead of diesel fuel — unlike fuel cells, which generate electricity to power a motor.
  • And rivals Daimler Truck and Volvo Group teamed up on a new fuel cell venture called Cellcentric that aims to crank up large-scale production by 2025.

Be smart: Hydrogen can make sense for long-haul trucking and round-the-clock freight logistics operations, where time is money.

  • But fuel cell passenger cars remain a tiny niche. Fewer than 18,000 have been sold in the U.S. since 2012, and the country has just 55 publicly available hydrogen fueling stations —  all in California, where zero-emissions rules are strictest.
  • Still, it’s worth noting that none of the early players, including Toyota, Hyundai and BMW, have given up.

What to watch: There’s still a lot of fighting over the hydrogen production tax incentive rollout, as Jael Holzman explains in Axios Pro: Energy Policy.

  • Without enough guardrails, environmentalists worry the credit could wind up increasing U.S. carbon emissions.

The bottom line: Fuel cell vehicles have a long way to go — but they may finally have the energy to get there.

  • “Up until two years ago, I knew we were in an uphill battle, and I didn’t see a wave that would change anything,” says Bill Elrick, executive director of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Partnership, a joint effort between industry and government to expand the fuel cell vehicle market.
  • “I think something has shifted.”


Plug Power and Uline expand partnership to supply hydrogen and fuel cells at four additional sites

Plug Power and Uline, a distributor of shipping, industrial, and packaging materials to businesses throughout North America, announced an expanded partnership to deploy Plug’s hydrogen infrastructure and fuel cell solutions at Uline’s new campus in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

This expanded partnership includes the integration of on-site hydrogen infrastructure with the installation of a 18,000-gallon hydrogen storage tank and 17 hydrogen dispensers to service four distribution centers within the campus.

The partnership also includes the addition of 250 fuel cell forklifts that will operate on hydrogen generated on-site through Plug’s infrastructure.

Plug’s hydrogen infrastructure to support the entire campus is set to be commissioned and fully operational within the next ten months, with the first new distribution center in the campus slated to be completed this year. Uline plans to construct three more buildings over the next several years as part of the strategic campus build-out.

The collaboration between Plug and Uline began in 2015 at Uline’s distribution center near its 200-acre corporate campus in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin. Over the past 8 years, Uline has used Plug’s fuel cell solutions in its operations, operating 270 fuel cell forklifts between their six facilities. With this expanded partnership, Uline will operate a total of 520 fuel cells and 34 dispensers across ten facilities, making them one of the largest Plug customers.


‘US plans for hourly matching would drive up both the cost of green hydrogen production and emissions’: WoodMac

Analysis commissioned by renewables group argues that average carbon intensity could increase as more blue hydrogen projects would come online instead.    

More blue than green

The ACP argues that blue hydrogen will take off faster than green hydrogen, in part because its feedstock of natural gas is extremely cheap at present. This means that incentives can more easily cover the cost gap with fossil fuels, even if the carbon intensity of blue H2 is likely to be higher due to upstream methane emissions….

 ExxonMobil threatened to scrap its world-leading blue hydrogen project at its Baytown refinery in Texas, because it would not get high enough subsidies under the Treasury’s current draft guidance.

WoodMac’s analysis suggests that because fewer green hydrogen projects will come online due to extra costs imposed by hourly matching, the Treasury’s proposed guidance would see an average carbon intensity of US clean hydrogen reach 3.1kgCO2e/kgH2 in 2028, falling to 2.5kgCO2e/kgH2 in 2032 and 1.9kgCO2e/kgH2 in 2035.


‘Alkaline electrolysers will dominate green hydrogen production for another decade’: report

But manufacturing capacity will be double that of demand by 2030, says research house…

According to a US- and China-based hydrogen and renewables research house, alkaline electrolysers will continue to dominate the green hydrogen industry for another decade due to the maturity of the technology and the potential to make efficiency gains. However, overall electrolyser manufacturing capacity will be up to double that of demand by 2030, the report from Clean Energy Associates (CEA) warned.

CEA’s report, Green Hydrogen Supply, Technology and Policy Report H1 2024,  estimates that installed alkaline electrolyser capacity will make up more than two thirds of green hydrogen manufacturing capacity in 2027… This tracks with some of the short-term estimates given by other research houses such as BloombergNEF (BNEF), which has warned of a massive oversupply of electrolysers to 2025, which some analysts believe will see some factories in China, in particular, having to shut down…In fact, BNEF has found that most electrolyser factories are only operating at 10% capacity at present, due to the same market pressures…In the US, the publication of Treasury guidance on tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act late last year, which is yet to be finalised, is expected to stimulate investment decisions on green hydrogen schemes. The winners of the $7bn Hydrogen Hubs programme were also announced last year.


Plug Power tees up $1.6bn government loan and commissions the ‘largest liquid green hydrogen plant in the US’

Embattled electrolyser maker outlines plans to shore up its shaky finances. Electrolyser manufacturer Plug Power has commissioned its 40MW liquid green hydrogen plant in the US state of Georgia, which it claims is the largest liquid renewable H2 plant in the country, as its management team outlined plans to shore up the troubled company’s finances. Last year Plug’s finances were catastrophically undermined by both a hydrogen supply squeeze and a series of forced and planned outages across its fuel network — a situation that led to the company warning it may not have the cash reserves to continue operating for a full 12 months…


Although relatively small in terms of the hundred-MW and GW-scale projects under development globally, the plant in Woodbine, Georgia is also currently the biggest green H2 installation in Europe or North America to solely use proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysers, Marsh said.

The plant, which includes a liquefaction facility to produce cryogenic hydrogen for Plug’s network of H2 fuelling stations, will produce around 15 tonnes of liquid H2 per day, or 5,475 tonnes per year at full utilisation. This is enough to power 15,000 forklift trucks per day, Plug said.


US logistics firm opts to decarbonise with hydrogen trucks after operating battery electric fleet for two years

IMC has placed a $22m order with Nikola for 50 fuel-cell trucks. IMC, the largest company in the US hauling containers from ports to warehouses, has ordered 50 Nikola fuel-cell trucks for its operations in California, Arizona, and Nevada after disappointing results from two years of operating battery-electric vehicles. The firm had purchased six Class 8 battery-electric trucks from Volvo in September 2022 and installed charge points capable of serving a fleet of 30 but found them wanting…“The main challenge with battery [electric vehicles] is that you can only get four to six hours of productivity out of the truck in a 12-to-14-hour period if they are under load,” the marine drayage firm’s CEO Joel Henry told Memphis Daily newspaper The Commercial Appeal…“The problem is that it isn’t sustainable for trucking companies, which can operate diesel tractors for about 20 to 24 hours a day,” he added. However, California regulations require all new drayage trucks registered from 1 January to be zero-emission vehicles, in an effort to phase out fossil-fuel trucks from ports by 2035…

The headline of this article was amended on 18 January to reflect that IMC will continue to operate its six battery electric trucks. The original headline was “US logistics firm opts for hydrogen trucks after testing and rejecting battery electric fleet”.


‘Despite the rhetoric, oil giants hold a share of just 8% of global low-carbon hydrogen capacity’

According to data released, international oil giants hold a combined share of just 8% of global low-carbon hydrogen capacity, despite the enthusiastic rhetoric on hydrogen emanating from fossil-fuel boardrooms…Several Western oil companies have been hailed as hydrogen pioneers for their public commitment to large-scale H2 projects, including BP’s massive green hydrogen-based Asian Renewable Energy Hub in Australia, Equinor’s involvement in blue H2 clusters in Norway and the UK, and Shell’s investment in Europe’s largest under-construction green H2 project, the 200MW Holland I.