US Department of Energy Doubles Down on Clean Energy Launches Initiative to Lower Cost of Hydrogen

Jennifer M. Granholm, United States Secretary of Energy, officially launched the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Earthshots Initiative recently. The program’s goal is to “accelerate breakthroughs of more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions within the decade.” According to a statement by the DOE, the first Energy Earthshot is “Hydrogen Shot,” which seeks to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% - down to $1/kg in one decade. These targets are meant to help the US tackle climate crisis, and reach the current administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Source - US Department of Energy

“The Energy Earthshots are an all-hands-on-deck call for innovation, collaboration and acceleration of our clean energy economy, by tackling the toughest remaining barriers, to quickly deploy emerging clean energy technologies at scale,” said Secretary Granholm. “First up: Hydrogen Shot, which sets an ambitious yet achievable cost target to accelerate innovations and spur demand of clean hydrogen. Clean hydrogen is a game changer. It will help decarbonize high-polluting, heavy-duty and industrial sectors, while delivering well-paying clean energy jobs and realizing a net-zero economy by 2050.”

According to the DOE, “the Hydrogen Shot establishes a framework and foundation for clean hydrogen deployment in the American Jobs Plan, which includes support for demonstration projects. Industries are beginning to implement clean hydrogen to reduce emissions, but there are still many hurdles to deploying it at scale. Currently, hydrogen from renewable energy costs about $5 per kilogram. By achieving the Hydrogen Shot’s 80% cost reduction goal, we can unlock a five-fold increase in demand by increasing clean hydrogen production from pathways such as renewables, nuclear, and thermal conversion. This would create more clean energy jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and position America to compete in the clean energy market on a global scale."

As part of the launch, at the DOE’s Hydrogen Program Annual Merit Review and Peer Evaluation Meeting, DOE’s Hydrogen Program issued a Request for Information (RFI) on viable hydrogen demonstrations, including specific locations, that can help lower the cost of hydrogen, reduce carbon emissions and local air pollution, create well-paying jobs, and provide benefits to disadvantaged communities. Topics in the RFI include:

  • Hydrogen Production, Resources, and Infrastructure

  • End Users for Hydrogen Based on Specific Regions, Cost, and Value Propositions

  • Greenhouse Gas and Other Pollutant Emissions Reduction Potential

  • Diversity, Equity, Inclusion (DEI), Jobs, and Environmental Justice

  • Science & Innovation Needs and Challenges

The Energy Department’s latest round of hydrogen funding was announced at $52.5 million, much of which will be going towards green hydrogen systems, including bio-based and electrochemical pathways as well as electrolysis. Projects included aim at capturing carbon from steam reformation systems - the primary method for extracting hydrogen from natural gas.