$1 Billion For ‘Clean Hydrogen Hub’ Won From Federal Government

The Pacific Northwest, comprising Oregon and Washington, achieved a significant victory last year as they secured a substantial portion of the $7 billion federal funding aimed at promoting the production and utilization of “green” hydrogen. President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced that the Pacific Northwest bid was among the seven winners, each receiving approximately $1 billion in Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs grant funding.

The funding for the hydrogen hubs program was approved by Congress as part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill in late 2021. The federal Energy Department anticipates that its grant awards will stimulate at least double or triple the amount in state and private matching funds, if not more in certain cases, further bolstering the progress of hydrogen initiatives in the region.

This triumph in the fiercely contested national competition is expected to accelerate efforts in the region to reduce pollution from heavy industries by utilizing hydrogen as a vital fuel source. Portland General Electric is one of the participating companies driving this initiative.

The joint pitch for the billion-dollar federal funds involved collaboration between leaders from Oregon and Washington, potential fuel producers, industrial consumers, trade unions, utility companies, and several Southwest Washington tribes. While the specific projects to be subsidized in the Northwest were not disclosed during the competition and remain somewhat vague, the U.S. Department of Energy stated that the Pacific Northwest hub proposal is projected to create over 10,000 direct jobs, including 8,050 in construction and 350 permanent positions.

The hydrogen hub funding proposal in the Pacific Northwest envisions the production of “green” hydrogen through the process of electrolysis, which involves splitting water molecules using renewable electricity exclusively to ensure the resulting hydrogen is environmentally friendly.

The Washington State Department of Commerce, in an emailed statement, clarified that no new wind and solar projects were specified in the region’s hydrogen hub proposal. However, the participating hydrogen producers are actively collaborating with renewable electricity project developers to ensure a reliable and growing supply of clean energy to meet hydrogen production needs.

While the prospect of a large hydrogen factory near the Centralia coal power plant raised questions about the source of electricity required for operations, the Energy Department assured that when fully operational, the seven regional hydrogen hubs together would reduce carbon dioxide pollution by 25 million metric tons annually, which is roughly equivalent to the combined emissions of 5.5 million gasoline-powered cars.