A regional hydrogen hub in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming is one step closer to reality after the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs program issued an “Encouraged” recommendation for the concept paper submitted by Western Interstate Hydrogen Hub (WISHH).
According to the DOE, reviewers only issued “Encouraged” recommendations to 33 of the 79 concept papers that were submitted earlier this fall.
WISHH members were notified of the recommendation on Dec. 27, 2022. This follows a process in which reviewers independently scored each concept paper based on evaluation criteria including qualifications, experience, and capabilities; expected contributions toward a national hydrogen network; plans to develop production, end-use, and connective facilities; and the community benefits plan component.
The term “regional clean hydrogen hub” is defined by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as “a network of clean hydrogen producers, potential clean hydrogen consumers, and connective infrastructure located in close proximity.” Applicants encouraged to proceed by DOE plan to develop all elements critical to a regional clean hydrogen hub: comprising production, end-uses, and connective infrastructure; demonstrating capabilities to execute a project plan or to attract and hire such capabilities; planning to deploy proven technologies; and indicating commitments to clean hydrogen and meaningful community benefits.
“As Colorado and other western mountain states diversify their energy economies with renewable sources, clean hydrogen will play an important role in grid resilience, while helping achieve Governor Polis’ goal of 100% renewable electricity generation in Colorado by 2040,” said Colorado Energy Office Executive Director Will Toor. “Colorado is proud of the work WISHH is doing. We look forward to collaborating with partners across the four-state region and companies around the world to continue developing our approach to this work, and create a sustainable, equitable clean energy future for all.”
“New Mexico and our western state partners are the place to invest in a clean, sustainable hydrogen economy,” said James Kenney, Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Environment Department. “We appreciate those businesses who already invested in New Mexico and welcome further clean hydrogen investments to help us reach our ambitious climate goals.”
“We are pleased that the Department of Energy sees our vision for developing a hydrogen hub in the intermountain region.” Said Greg Todd, energy advisor for Gov. Spencer Cox. “Utah will play a vital role in seeing this project through to fruition, and we’re excited to now begin the work of paving the way for hydrogen to become part of our future fuel mix.”
“The WISHH concept represents a collective effort of a multi-state coalition to secure and sustain our regional energy economy. The positive response to our concept paper is not unexpected as we know we have a winning proposal. We have a lot of work to do to capitalize on this good news and we are looking forward to building on our concept and submitting a winning application,” said Wyoming Energy Authority Executive Director Dr. Glen Murrell.
Although encourage/discourage notifications do not prevent any entity that submitted a Concept Paper from submitting a full application, the recommendation serves to caution applicants who received a “discourage” notification from expending the time and resources necessary to develop a successful full application. The final application deadline is April 7, 2023 and DOE anticipates selecting awardees during the summer of 2023.
The concept paper outlines the four-state coalition’s preliminary hydrogen hub concept. Since February 2022, this bipartisan, interstate coalition between Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Utah has been developing a regional strategy for the safe, clean and sustainable use of clean hydrogen. This strategy is critical to reaching the region’s diverse energy needs and policy goals, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions, using a broad range of feedstock to develop hydrogen, ensuring economic competitiveness, and supporting communities on the front lines of the energy transition.