Opinion

The Biden Administration’s Hydrogen Opportunity

As our nation welcomes new executive and congressional leadership, we are called to harness American ingenuity and innovation to solve one of our generation’s biggest challenges: climate change. Doing so will require never-before-seen action from the public and private sectors working in lock step to adopt and accelerate new and existing technologies to power our society.

Recognizing the opportunities and challenges of the moment, our companies, Cummins and Linde, joined a coalition called Hydrogen Forward, a group consisting of our fellow founding members – Air Liquide, Anglo American, Bloom Energy, CF Industries, Chart Industries, Hyundai, McDermott, Shell and Toyota – and united by a shared vision to accelerate the energy transition through mass-scale deployment of hydrogen.

Though once considered the energy solution of the future, already developed hydrogen technology provides a significant opportunity to decarbonize energy-intensive industries and advance global environmental and economic objectives. These technologies, which are in use today, allow hydrogen to store, use and transport energy while generating zero emissions at point of use.

And because of its unique storage properties, hydrogen also provides low-carbon options to heat residential and commercial buildings, provide backup power during grid outages and enable large-scale, efficient renewable energy integration into the U.S. power grid.

However, in the United States, hydrogen is perhaps most publicly visible in the transportation sector, where it has the potential to revolutionize the way we move both people and goods.

Transportation-related emissions account for almost one-third of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Alongside battery electric vehicles, fuel cell electric vehicles – like passenger vehicles, buses, long-haul trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles – can significantly reduce transportation-related emissions.

In addition to the climate benefits, the hydrogen scale-up will help bolster our nation’s strong industrial base and robust supply chains to retain and create millions of well-paying jobs in manufacturing and technology. By 2030, the U.S. hydrogen economy could generate $140 billion in revenue and support 700,000 jobs.

Further, because hydrogen is sourced, produced and used domestically, our nation will be able to capture the full economic benefits of the entire hydrogen supply chain, including production, infrastructure and end-use.

At Linde, investments in renewable hydrogen are helping us eliminate GHG emissions in a variety of sectors, including transportation. We announced late last year that our Ontario, Calif., facility will soon produce enough renewable hydrogen to eliminate 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

And at Cummins, we announced plans to launch the largest renewable hydrogen electrolyzer in the United States in Washington state, partnering with a local public utility. The project, expected to launch later this year, will allow the utility to harness renewables and store their energy for later use.

As the new administration re-engages in global climate diplomacy and pioneers a modern era for U.S. climate and energy leadership, we firmly believe stakeholders in the public and private sectors must collaborate to accelerate the deployment of hydrogen.

It has been heartening to see early signs of support among Biden administration officials to date. During her confirmation hearing, incoming Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said the United States should be energy secure “in the cleanest way possible,” and noted that hydrogen is a necessary tool to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

And former Secretary of State John Kerry, in his new role as climate envoy, acknowledged that investments in hydrogen and other technologies will transform our economies.

Though the first 100 days of the Biden administration will be a flurry of activity, our nation must prioritize U.S. climate policies and establish a clear strategy for hydrogen investment through infrastructure, development and deployment.

As we mobilize to create a healthy and sustainable world for generations to come, we must remember the choices we make now will have tremendous consequences for the future.

Steve Angel is the CEO of Linde, and Tom Linebarger is the chairman and CEO of Cummins. Hydrogen Forward is an initiative led by 11 companies committed to working with stakeholders in the public and private sector to advance hydrogen for a cleaner, stronger U.S. economy.

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