The US government forecasts a 50 million tonnes/year opportunity for clean hydrogen development in the country by 2050, Kallanish reports.

According to its long-awaited National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap, the opportunity isn’t limited to production. It is based on forecast demand from different sectors. The country is targeting a 10m t/y clean hydrogen market by 2030, doubling to 20m t/y by 2040.  

The US hydrogen economy could boost the country’s decarbonisation efforts, contributing to a 10% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and creating new 100,000 jobs by 2030.

To deliver on its goals, the government will focus on three strategies. It will first target high-impact uses such as industries, heavy-duty transportation and long-duration energy storage. Over the longer term, it also sees scope for exports to allies.

Another key strategy is to reduce the cost of production and delivery of clean hydrogen through innovation and scale, as well as midstream investment in storage and distribution infrastructure. Finally, the government will focus on regional networks or so-called hydrogen hubs. These ensure large-scale production close to high-priority users, enabling infrastructure sharing and other synergies.

To date, the US has earmarked $9.5 billion to accelerate hydrogen investment through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), as well as granted additional incentives including a hydrogen production tax credit through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The funding support includes $1 billion destined for electrolysis, $500 million for clean hydrogen manufacturing and recycling R&D and $8 billion for regional hubs.

The Biden administration is confident it will be able to reduce green hydrogen production costs to $2/kg by 2026, on track to deliver on its “1 1 1” target. The latter stands for $1 per 1 kg of clean hydrogen in 1 decade. If this is achieved, the US will be one of the cheapest places in the world to produce green hydrogen in 2031.

Green hydrogen production in the country costs around $5/kg (at low volume), compared to $1.5/kg for pink hydrogen (nuclear-based) and less than $10/kg for blue hydrogen (fossil fuel with carbon capture usage and storage). However, the cost of hydrogen to refuelling stations (including compressing and dispensing) can reach $13/kg in places like California. This is over three times higher than the cost required to be competitive, the DOE warns.

The US claims to be a global leader in hydrogen and fuel cells, having used hydrogen more than a century ago to send a man to the moon. It has over 1,200 hydrogen and fuel cell patents, 30 commercial technologies and over 65 technologies under development.

Its current related infrastructure includes over 1,600 miles of dedicated H2 pipelines, three geological storage caverns, 50 retail H2 refuelling stations, over 15,000 fuel cells vehicles, more than 50,000 fuel cell forklifts, and over 500 MW of fuel cells for stationary energy storage.

The strategy and roadmap, to be implemented in collaboration with industry, academia and local governments and communities, will be updated every three years.