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New industry coalition pushes for clean hydrogen

What’s Happening

The Clean Hydrogen Future Coalition (CHFC) is a recently formed advocacy group made up of various oil, gas, and utility companies. The CHFC recently asked the Biden administration to incentivize low-carbon hydrogen production as part of its new jobs and economic recovery plan. Their proposed “clean” hydrogen techniques include green hydrogen, which utilizes wind and solar power, and  “blue” hydrogen, which uses natural gas and mandates a CO2 capturing system. The CHFC’s stated goal is to lower the costs of hydrogen production while utilizing existing fossil fuels. Many environmental advocacy groups disagree with the CHFC, stating that its proposed hydrogen techniques would not alleviate — and would in some cases exacerbate — environmental and social harms.

Here’s Our Take

The CHFC is predominantly comprised of businesses and industry groups that consume and/or produce hydrogen, which may entangle their interests when it comes to lobbying for federal regulations. Although the Biden administration has not responded to the coalition’s request for policy support, many are looking to the administration for clear guidelines on clean hydrogen production and the risks associated with it. Renewable hydrogen (ie, green hydrogen) has few environmental impacts other than land needed for solar and wind facilities, but hydrogen produced from natural gas with carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) creates a variety of concerns—primarily related to construction of CCS pipeline network and permanence of disposal. As the demand for alternative energy and fuels increases, it will be important to study new clean production techniques, and the many environmental and cost tradeoffs. Significant challenges still remain for the deployment of hydrogen as a transportation fuel, including production, compaction, storage and distribution, as well as use in industrial processes, storage for the electricity grid, and most importantly in fuel cell vehicles. 

ITS-Davis has launched a hydrogen system research project for California that will provide a comprehensive assessment of how the hydrogen system can and should develop in a timely cost-effective manner, including its use in vehicles and industry, and production as both blue and green hydrogen. Getting the transition right will be challenging, given the need to align many pieces and consumer and other stakeholder interests. ITS-Davis will provide its first report from this study during the 2nd quarter of this year. Please see below for other related research from UC Davis Institute of Transportation Studies:

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