How America Can Support and Grow the 'Hydrogen Economy'

As climate challenges continue to shape the way companies innovate, the hydrogen economy has grown and has proven to be a viable source of energy.


Air Date: September 30, 2021

Moderator: Martin Durbin, Senior Vice President, Policy, Ruth Demeter, Senior Policy Director, Global Energy Institute, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Dan Byers, Vice President, Policy, U.S. Chamber Global Energy Institute, Heath Knakmuhs, Vice President and Policy Counsel, Global Energy Institute

Featured Guests: Greg Pence, United States Representative, Indiana, Rich Voorberg, President, North America, Siemens Energy, Yuval Steiman, Director, Eco-compliance and Research, Hyundai Motor Company, Phil Musser, Vice President, Government Affairs, NextEra

Climate challenges are leading companies to seek greener alternatives and work towards a zero-emissions future. As technology advances, there are more paths for companies to take to go green — one path being hydrogen power. As it continues to be researched and adopted, hydrogen has grown to be a promising alternative energy source.

To discuss the different ways companies are innovating America’s energy supply and creating better alternatives for the world, experts joined together to share their visions for the future of the hydrogen economy.

Government Support Plays a Large Role in the Growth of the Hydrogen Economy

Rep. Greg Pence, Representative for Indiana's 6th District, sees the potential advantages of using hydrogen throughout various industries. Without government support, however, the hydrogen economy will face challenges expanding. Pence discussed how the hydrogen economy could affect the future, particularly with the introduction of the bipartisan bill, the Clean Energy Hydrogen Innovation Act.

“[The bill] expands the list of hydrogen energy applications under the DOE loan program,” he said. “It seeks to help bridge gaps between R and D and commercialization for an extended list of potential hydrogen applications, power generation, transportation, industrial manufacturing, and it provides opportunities to receive needed investment to scale up operations so the technologies can become more economical.”

Hydrogen Energy Offers Many Advantages Without Requiring Much Change to Infrastructure

Rich Voorberg, president of North America Siemens Energy, pointed out that hydrogen doesn’t require new infrastructure or technology in order to be implemented as a viable energy source. Rather, the existing infrastructure already in place can be altered.

Voorberg explained that hydrogen is an abundant resource that is storable, an advantage that offers many possibilities for further implementation.

“We think hydrogen is the Swiss army knife,” Voorberg said. “It's got a lot of capabilities, and I think that'll be the one that gets us to be decarbonized in the world.”

Large Companies See the Value in Hydrogen as an Energy Source

Mark Schott, senior director of UOP LLC, Carbon Capture & Clean H2 at Honeywell International, believes that hydrogen is an energy source worth investing in.

“Right now we're really focusing those R&D dollars and efforts on lowering the CO2 intensity in hydrogen production, and we're working on hydrogen transportation technologies for the developing hydrogen economy,” Schott said.

Schott noted the synergy between low-carbon hydrogen and CCS-based hydrogen available today.

“CCS based hydrogen is available at a much lower cost and larger scale than renewable power based hydrogen today … [and]is the only ready-now hydrogen route to make large impacts on decarbonization in the next several years.”

The Hydrogen Economy Could Greatly Benefit the Auto Industry

Yuval Steiman, director of eco-compliance and research at Hyundai Motor Company, touched upon the ways Hyundai is developing solutions using hydrogen fuel cells in their electric vehicles, such as the Nexo. He assured the general public won't need to sacrifice what they’re used to in order to lead a greener lifestyle.

“Nexo provides everything people want,” he said. “We have 380 miles of range, it's easy to fuel up, it meets your everyday needs, and, when you're driving it, you really don't know that you're driving anything other than a great SUV.”

Steiman noted that the infrastructure is already there in places like gas stations and would be easily adaptable for a greener future.

Policy Frameworks and Investments Could Shape the Hydrogen Economy

Phil Musser, VP of Government Affairs at NextEra, noted that government policy and leadership can drive the change for the hydrogen economy. However, government policy needs to be implemented in order for the hydrogen economy to grow in more industries.

“Our company already invests between $15 and $20 billion a year in capital investments,” he said. “If you look at what the right policy frameworks could do for investment in manufacturing of just the electrolyzers that we're talking about, we see a potentially $60 billion market by 2050 that could spur $2 trillion of capital investment and create somewhere between a million and a million and a half new jobs in our country.”


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