How Clean Will Ohio’s Hydrogen Hub Be?Posted on
What Does The New Hydrogen Hub Mean For You?
In about one week, the Ohio River Valley may soon become home to a new hydrogen collection hub. If approved, the project could mean more savings and jobs for Ohio's clean energy market. However, opponents argue the hub could raise energy rates and won’t create as many jobs as it claims. So, how clean will Ohio’s hydrogen hub be? And, most importantly, what does this mean for Ohio energy rates?
What Is A Hydrogen Hub?
If you’re not aware of what a hydrogen hub is, we’ll break it down for you. First, a hydrogen hub stores and supplies hydrogen to a variety of surrounding industries. Hydrogen gas is powerful stuff. Best of all, it produces water as exhaust when burned with oxygen. So, industries currently using natural gas could switch over to using hydrogen for little cost at all. Because the hub is in the middle of all these industries and uses existing pipelines, it keeps costs low. This way, using hubs makes hydrogen technology more affordable and accessible. These hugs are already in place in Australia. The planned hub in Ohio will be producing blue hydrogen but may move to green hydrogen in the future.
What’s The Difference Between Blue And Green Hydrogen?
While Green hydrogen comes from water, blue hydrogen comes from natural gas. Green hydrogen uses electricity from wind and solar farms to break apart water into oxygen and hydrogen. It's a totally clean process but it's currently more expensive. Meanwhile, blue hydrogen comes from breaking apart natural gas. Specifically, the process combines natural gas with steam at high heat to make hydrogen and carbon dioxide. Ohio ranks sixth in US natural gas production so blue hydrogen is much cheaper to make. Even more important, much of the pipeline network is already in place. As a result, this makes Ohio a great spot to make hydrogen from natural gas produced by wells up and down the state.
What Will Be The Effect Of The Ohio Hydrogen Hub?
The Ohio Clean Hydrogen Hub Alliance is raising money to fund the hub. They claim that these hubs will attract more businesses and investment to Ohio. Clearly, they are not alone in their efforts. The alliance has succeeded in winning support from several large Ohio-based energy companies. All the same, building the facility and bringing in the extra infrastructure will likely cost hundreds of billions of dollars. And at the moment, there is no definitive way to break down the cost or who will pay for them.
Naturally, the uncertainty about who will have to pay worries some consumers. To that end, some opponents argue hydrogen hubs will just increase costs to both electricity and natural gas rates. Of course, PUCO would have the last word on any price increase or additional fees. And while they do not directly oversee the production of natural gas, they do oversee the distribution. But all the same, there's a lot up in the air and how hubs could affect energy rates remains unclear.
Moving Forward With The Hub
The Department of Energy issues its decision on $8 billion to fund four regional hydrogen hubs on May 15. That means the Ohio Valley project could receive about $2 billion to build and demonstrate hub technology. The DOE intends to distribute grants in November of the same year. We’ll find out soon if this hub is coming to the Ohio River Valley.
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