The US is the world’s second-biggest producer and consumer of hydrogen after China, accounting for 13 percent of global demand. The United States uses and produces many different types and sources of energy, which can be grouped into general categories such as primary and secondary, renewable, and fossil fuels.
Renewable energy production and consumption both reached record highs of about 12.32 and 12.16 quads, respectively, in 2021, driven mainly by record-high solar and wind energy production. Hydroelectric power production in 2021 was about 9 percent lower than in 2020 and about 19 percent lower than the 50-year average(1).Total biomass production and consumption in 2021 were both higher than in 2020, but lower than the record highs in 2018. Geothermal energy use in 2021 was about 1.5 percent higher than in 2020, but lower than the record high in 2014.
US administration issued executive orders committing to the following carbon reduction targets: (i) a 50 percent reduction from 2005 levels of economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution by 2030; (ii) a 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity sector no later than 2035; and (iii) net-zero carbon emissions by no later than 2050. These targets are generally consistent with the Paris Agreement, which was signed and ratified by almost all of world’s developed nations.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) has identified green hydrogen as a key technology to decarbonize sectors like steel, ammonia, energy storage and heavy-duty transport. Clean hydrogen is crucial to DOE’s strategy for achieving President Joe Biden’s goal of a 100% clean electrical grid by 2035 and net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The goal of the government is to reduce the cost of production to $1 per 1 kilogram of green hydrogen in 1 decade (“1 1 1”) (Department of Energy Hydrogen Shot, June 2021).
Currently, 99 percent of U.S hydrogen production is sourced from fossil fuels, with 95 percent from natural gas by SMR and 4 percent by partial oxidation of natural gas via coal gasification. Only 1 percent of hydrogen is produced from electrolysis. Approximately 10 million metric tons of hydrogen is produced in the U.S. annually. Approximately, 60 percent of it is produced in dedicated hydrogen production facilities as their primary product. (2)
Today, almost all hydrogen produced in the U.S. is used for refining petroleum, treating metals, producing ammonia for fertilizers and processing foods.
The US Department of Energy (DoE) published a National Hydrogen Program in November 2020. It outlines a coordinated effort across multiple offices within DOE that conduct research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) activities on hydrogen technologies.
The US does not yet have a dedicated national strategy for green hydrogen. However, on 7 June 2021, U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm announced U.S. the DOE’s Hydrogen Shot program aimed at improving the scale-of-production and reducing production costs. The target is to produce hydrogen at $2/kg by 2025 and $1/kg by 2030 via net-zero-carbon pathways hydrogen ($1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade or "1 1 1").
On 5 November 5, 2021, the US House of Representatives passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill (BIB) which includes hydrogen technology investments the US Department of Energy (DOE) to deliver reliable, clean and affordable energy to communities across the US. The BIB includes USD 9.5 billion in support for hydrogen, including USD 8 billion to establish regional hydrogen hubs. The proposed “Build Back Better” Act also provides for production tax credits of up to USD 3 a kilogram for 10 years or an investment tax credit of up to 30 percent of the cost of the electrolyser and other equipment
The recently released draft from September 2022, National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap, focuses on strategies with three key priorities of increasing the high impact use of hydrogen, reducing the cost, and deployment of regional hubs.
The government aims to reduce 16 percent carbon dioxide emission by 2050. According to the US Department of Energy, the hydrogen value chain will generate $140 billion/year by 2030 and USD 750 billion/year by 2050 in revenues. This will create 700,000 new jobs by 2030 and a cumulative 3.4 million jobs by 2050.
Lowest-cost production methods for clean hydrogen will depend upon regional resource availability, and early market developments will need to be located near end users to reduce the costs of hydrogen delivery. The combination of natural resources, infrastructure assets, and hydrogen demand opportunities varies from region to region and will determine optimal region-specific approaches. Solar and wind resource potentials dominate in the plains, southwest, and mountain regions. Biomass resources are prevalent in the midwestern, northeastern, and southeastern United States. Geologic CO2 storage potential is dominant in the industrial heartland and the Gulf Coast, where natural gas resources are also prevalent.
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Rocket Fuel for SpaceX: A 60 GW renewable hydrogen project by a Texas based start-up called Green Hydrogen International. It will be powered by wind and solar, with its own salt cavern for storage and a plan to produce clean rocket fuel for Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It will be centered around a hydrogen storage facility in the Piedras Pintas Salt Dome, with pipelines to the port cities of Corpus Christi and Brownsville on the Mexico border and will produce more than 2.5 million tonnes of green hydrogen a year upon completion.
Hy Stor Energy Green Hydrogen Hub: Hy Stor Energy announced a green hydrogen production and storage complex in Mississippi in October 2021. It promises to produce 110,000 metric tons of green hydrogen and storing approximately 70,000 metric tons of green hydrogen in its underground salt caverns by 2025. The plant is supposedly 10 times larger than any other green hydrogen project in the USA and one of the largest in the world.