America: Keep your eye on the hydrogen ball
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America: Keep your eye on the hydrogen ball

John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate for the Biden administration, recently referred to hydrogen energy as a “jump ball”, elaborating that America must embrace opportunities in hydrogen. America needs to secure the hydrogen jump ball to address the twin challenges of climate change and economic recovery from Covid-19 as well as to stay ahead of the global energy game. Many economic blocs around the world have already recognised the importance that hydrogen and fuel cells will play as they rebuild the economies and drive towards decarbonisation. Countries of all sizes have already published national hydrogen strategies and are backing up those plans with commitments to invest hundreds of billions into hydrogen development and deployments.

America’s long-term leadership position in the global market is at risk as these economic competitors have made it clear that hydrogen and fuel cell technologies will be a critical component to address economic needs today, and environmental goals in the future. The time for the US to develop a National Hydrogen Strategy of our own is now, and top American leadership recognises this. With this in mind, it is necessary to get ahead of the curve on hydrogen to solidify our environmental, economic, and national security goals, and to avoid ceding our technological leadership to other countries.

We have already seen the effects that climate change is creating, from severe temperature changes across the country, to an increase in the frequency and intensity of tropical storms. Power outages caused by weather or aging infrastructure are spurring an interest in microgrids, distributed generation, and energy storage, all of which hydrogen and fuel cells have a proven track record. With the new administration’s focus on boosting clean energy infrastructure, we are calling on President Biden to embrace the revolutionary impacts hydrogen can have on infrastructure and provide a path to a resilient, decarbonised energy system.

Why hydrogen?
Hydrogen is receiving this well-deserved growing attention due to its versatility in virtually every sector while remaining a zero-emission fuel. Hydrogen and fuel cell technologies are increasingly being deployed throughout the entire transportation sector, including light, medium, and heavy-duty vehicles, buses, maritime vessels, drones, material handling equipment, railways, and aviation. Fuel cell systems are decarbonising the electricity sector by providing primary or backup power, and companies have begun blending hydrogen into natural gas pipelines to decrease the carbon intensity in the fuel, as well as in the heating for buildings the pipelines service. In hard-to-decarbonise industrial sectors known for greenhouse gas emissions, hydrogen is a clean feedstock for use in iron, steel, and ammonia production.

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