Hydrogen node projects in Houston move forward in race for $7B in DOE funds

Hydrogen node projects in Houston move forward in race for $7B in DOE funds
Hydrogen node projects in Houston move forward in race for $7B in DOE funds

The likelihood that Houston will host one of the nation’s federally funded hydrogen hubs is increasing after moves by the Department of Energy to winnow the field of contenders.

The DOE selected three Texas hydrogen hubs — including two in Houston — to submit applications for a slice of the $7 billion pie the agency has set aside for developing hydrogen as an alternative to fossil fuels.

The funds will give a boost to a region already poised to lead in hydrogen, a cleaner-burning gas that many of Houston’s energy companies see as key to their efforts to decarbonize their operations. The hubs will be in locations with abundant natural gas reserves and will test ways to produce and use hydrogen.

The three Texas proposals are among 33 projects still in the running for DOE funding, down from 79 submitted last year. As many as 10 hubs could be selected to receive the money. The Texas coalitions include:

  • Leading in Gulf Coast Hydrogen Transition (LIGH2T), which includes the University of Houston as the lead academic partner, Southern States Energy Board, National Energy Technology Laboratory, Marathon Petroleum subsidiary MPLX and chemical companies INEOS and Linde.
  • HyVelocity hub, which includes the University of Texas at Austin, French gas supplier Air Liquide, California-based oil major Chevron, the nonprofit Center for Houston’s Future and GTI Energy, a research and development company based in the Chicago area.

  • Christi Horizons Clean Hydrogen Hub (HCH2), for which the Port of Corpus Christi is the lead applicant.

The Texas projects could be encouraged to merge, said Ken Medlock, director of the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. A fourth Texas proposal based in the Permian Basin that had received DOE encouragement merged last month with the Corpus Christi hub, reflecting the fluid nature of those proposals.

“I assume all three proposals are going to get feedback from the DOE saying they all need to come together,” Medlock said. – But we’ll see what happens.

The desire for the two Houston projects is to be able to receive funding independently and move forward on their own, said Ramanan Krishnamoorti, vice president for energy and innovation at the University of Houston.

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