Hydrogen has been taking off in popularity across the country. From Midwestern ‘hydrogen hubs’ to drilling for underground hydrogen, it seems like the hydrogen renaissance is here to stay. Among all the hydrogen innovation has been the persistent pursuit of using the fuel to power the transportation sector, and the state of Georgia is considering taking a big step toward reaching that goal.
Earlier this month, the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) filed a request for information to figure out how the private sector can bring a network of hydrogen fueling stations to the state. Georgia’s DOT is hoping to fulfill a vision that many are referring to as a ‘hydrogen highway.’
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These hydrogen stations would be used to fuel commercial vehicles, tractor-trailers and other large trucks. While Georgia officials are looking at the possibility of deploying such fueling stations across the state, the current focus is on a 23-mile stretch of Interstate 16 near Savannah, Georgia. This stretch of highway would connect the Port of Savannah to the electric vehicle plant currently being built by Hyundai.
Why this area of the state? It is likely caused by the presence of Hyundai. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution noted:
The Savannah Economic Development Authority has signaled interest in developing the infrastructure to encourage hydrogen-fueled transportation, and for good reason. The Hydrogen Council estimates that global investments in the technology will exceed $300 billion by 2030. Building out the infrastructure for hydrogen now will give Georgia a competitive advantage as hydrogen fuel use becomes more widespread in the future.
Developing this hydrogen highway will also allow Hyundai to expand its use of hydrogen transportation in the U.S. In South Korea the company is already using hydrogen fuel cell big rigs, known as XCIENT, to transport materials for its operations. With an estimated 40,000 shipping containers being moved through the Port of Savannah annually to the Hyundai factory when it is built (which will increase to 100,000 annually), readily available hydrogen fuel may allow the car manufacturer to bring the XCIENT to the U.S.
The cost of developing the hydrogen highway is not currently known. But state leaders remain optimistic about the potential. “I want to thank GDOT and our partners in the private sector who will ensure that when it comes to hydrogen energy, we will do as we have in so many other areas — lead,” stated Georgia Governor Brian Kemp.
The market share of hydrogen-powered vehicles could increase in the coming years, lowering carbon emissions along the way. But this can’t happen without the necessary infrastructure and innovation to drive down costs. With investments in a hydrogen highway, Georgia may be paving the way forward for widespread hydrogen implementation in the transportation sector.
Kelvey Vander Hart is a native Iowan, a member of the American Conservation Coalition, and a communications specialist at Reason Foundation.