Four-bill legislative package reintroduced in Senate to bolster hydrogen infrastructure

Published on March 09, 2023 by Chris Galford

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A bipartisan package of legislation – the four-bill Hydrogen Infrastructure Initiative – was reintroduced into the Senate this week by U.S. Sens. Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Cornyn (R-TX) in an attempt to build up and support hydrogen infrastructure and reduce emissions at large.

Co-sponsored by a similarly bipartisan mix of U.S. Sens. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM), the legislation consists of the Hydrogen for Ports Act, Hydrogen for Industry Act, Hydrogen for Trucks Act and Hydrogen Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (HIFIA). As the names indicate, each targets hydrogen expansion at different segments of the market. All are meant to build up critical support for the transport, storage, and delivery of hydrogen, as well as high-value end-use applications of the gas.

Hydrogen’s main advantages are that it is high energy without greenhouse gas emissions at the point of use.

“Sustained investments in hydrogen technologies will reduce pollution in our communities, create high-quality jobs, ensure our energy security, and help us meet our climate goals,” Coons said. “Delaware is on the cutting edge of hydrogen innovation, manufacturing the membranes, fuel cells, electrolysis stacks, and carbon capture systems foundational to widespread clean hydrogen deployment.”

While the initiative taken as a whole would make big changes for the national energy economy, lowering cost barriers and risks for this fuel source, the individual bills grant a more specific picture of its practical effects. The Hydrogen for Ports Act would, for example, support the demonstration of hydrogen and ammonia-fueled equipment at ports and in shipping applications, encouraging them to be early adopters of hydrogen fuel. Meanwhile, the Hydrogen for Industry Act would support commercial-scale demonstration projects of hydrogen with end-use industrial applications of its high heat and reliability capabilities in the production of materials like steel, cement, glass, and chemicals.

Additionally, the Hydrogen for Trucks Act would back demonstration of and research on heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles and hydrogen fueling stations to inform future investments with hard data, reducing uncertainty around transitions. HIFIA, on the other hand, found focus on retrofitted or new hydrogen transport infrastructure projects, offering grants and low-interest loans through a pilot financing program, as well as launching a study to address technical requirements in transportation, storage, and the bureaucratic hurdles – such as siting and regulation – surrounding hydrogen transport infrastructure.

“Hydrogen is a versatile energy source, but we lack the infrastructure to reap its benefits for a wide range of industries,” Cornyn said. “This legislation would help make hydrogen more accessible and cost-effective so businesses and consumers can utilize this reliable energy resource.”

In the 117th Congress, Coons and Cornyn introduced both the Hydrogen Infrastructure Initiative and the Hydrogen for Trucks Act, but neither was ultimately passed. Still, these efforts have backing from a range of organizations, including the Bipartisan Policy Center Action, Clean Air Task Force, University of Delaware, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute, ENGIE, and more.