West Virginia is making important steps toward decarbonization. The state leaders have officially submitted a proposal for funding from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for the development of a hydrogen hub in an effort to curb emissions from the industrial sector.
The application was sent by the West Virginia Hydrogen Hub Coalition consisting of Joe Manchin, Senator Capito, David McKinley and Jim Justice. The state is one of the first to submit a proposal to participate in DOE’s competition for mass hydrogen production.
The funding comes from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, effective from November 2021, which allocates $8 billion for regional hydrogen hubs to expand the industrial use of hydrogen. It aims to support four industrial hydrogen hubs in different regions of the country.
Some requirements are that at least one hub uses fossil fuels to produce hydrogen while others use renewable energy and nuclear energy, respectively. Additionally, two of them should also be in regions “with the greatest natural gas resources” to the maximum extent possible.
West Virginia is a state with a rich background in coal, gas and oil and could be well-suited to lead the green energy transition. It has an extensive list of potential hydrogen customers that can be utilized to drive the demand for hydrogen in the area and across the country.
One of the main advantages is the availability of a skilled energy workforce thanks to its already established energy sector. The jobs could be transitioned to hydrogen to support the energy transition. Another advantage is the proven ability to export both fossil fuels and renewable resources, including hydropower, wind, and solar.
“With our abundant energy sources and strong partnerships, our state is uniquely situated to compete to develop a hydrogen hub… West Virginia has a long history of powering our great nation, and the West Virginia Hydrogen Hub Coalition is our opportunity to power the future right here in the Mountain State,” said US Senator Joe Manchin, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The Hub Coalition also pointed to the state’s more than 4,000 miles of pipelines and geologic potential to store CO2 in deep rock formations. That would potentially be utilized for the sequestration of emissions during blue hydrogen production.
The hydrogen hubs are expected to be selected in May 2023.
Turning one of the largest fossil fuel energy production states into a catalyst for hydrogen production is a step forward for a state reliant on oil and gas energy resources. It shows the need for preparing and adapting toward the unavoidable green transition that needs to happen immediately.