The growth of hydrogen in the United States got off to a predictably sluggish start. Everything from permit delays to market affordability has hindered the deployment of the fuel source. With public and private investment, hydrogen has begun to take off across America and it does not seem to be slowing down any time soon.
S&P Global’s CERAWeek this year bore testament to this. At the annual event, which seeks to provide an integrated framework for understanding what’s ahead for global energy markets, geopolitics, and technology all eyes were on hydrogen.
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“America came from nowhere and now they’re in the lead [in terms of investments],” stated Mark Hutchinson, CEO of Fortescue Future Industries, about the state of American hydrogen at the conference. “If we’re not successful this time, we’re never going to be successful,” commented Andy Marsh, the president and CEO of Plug Power. “The level of support is astronomical.”’
According to the World Economic Forum, the United States is now the world’s second-biggest hydrogen producer and consumer, led only by China. America accounts for 13 percent of the global hydrogen demand.
The headlines coming out of CERAWeek certainly highlight the American focus on hydrogen. “It’s all hydrogen,” declared FreightWaves. “All eyes are on green hydrogen,” asserted Axios. “The hydrogen buzz ramps up,” added the Houston Chronicle.
The industry is clearly very optimistic about the possibilities of hydrogen. “Ten to 15 years from now, hydrogen will basically be a new fossil fuel (as far as its use cases). It will replace natural gas for many applications and potentially replace diesel fuel for many transportation applications,” stated Paul Matter, co-founder of Power to Hydrogen. Power to Hydrogen is a hydrogen generation and storage company based in the United States.
Matter is right to think that hydrogen may be as prevalent in the future as fossil fuels are today. According to a report by Shearman & Sterling, almost all hydrogen produced in America today is used for refining petroleum, treating metals, producing ammonia for fertilizers, and processing foods. But tomorrow? Hydrogen’s use could be so much broader.
The possibilities for hydrogen seem endless. Hydrogen is already helping to lower emissions in the aviation industry and could soon power the cars of tomorrow. Hydrogen may also be used to heat buildings, store renewable power, and stabilize the power grid. On and on it goes. Whether talking about blue, green, gray, or pink, hydrogen of all colors and origins is growing. The growth in U.S. hydrogen investment is encouraging and will help meet America’s energy needs and climate ambitions. America is an innovative global energy leader, and over the coming years, the U.S. could lead the world in hydrogen too.
Kelvey Vander Hart is a native Iowan, a member of the American Conservation Coalition, and a communications specialist at Reason Foundation.