Northeastern States Align for Clean Hydrogen Hub

April 18, 2023 by Jake Hertz

Seven states have requested funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for research and development into the benefits of hydrogen.

As concerns about climate change and environmental degradation continue to mount, there is an urgent need for cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. One promising candidate is hydrogen power, which has the potential to provide a versatile, abundant, and emissions-free source of energy for a wide range of applications.

However, before hydrogen power can find widespread adoption, the infrastructure to support the technology must be built. Seven states from the northeastern United States made a joint proposal to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for funding for research and development into hydrogen as an energy source.

Hydrogen Promises

As an alternative and clean energy source, hydrogen fuel cells are one of the most highly discussed. A significant advantage is its efficiency. When used in fuel cells, hydrogen can be converted into electricity at an efficiency rate of up to 60% compared to the standard internal combustion engine, which has an efficiency near 25%. 


Hydrogen fuel cell diagram. Image used courtesy of the US Energy Information Administration


Hydrogen has the unique advantage of not producing any greenhouse gases (CO2) during combustion; instead, it yields water, meaning it can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help mitigate climate change impacts.

Researchers have been investigating many use cases for hydrogen power, including transportation, power generation, and heating. In transportation, hydrogen fuel cells can be used to power electric vehicles, which have the potential to replace gasoline-powered cars and reduce emissions from the transportation sector. 

In power generation, hydrogen can produce electricity in fuel cells, which can power homes and businesses. 

Finally, hydrogen can be burned to heat homes and buildings without producing greenhouse gases.


Northeast Hydrogen Hub

The seven states from the Northeastern United States have joined forces to submit a proposal to the DOE for funding for hydrogen development.

The group, which consists of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, seeks $1.25 billion and designation as a federal hydrogen hub. This proposal comes on the heels of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which makes $8 billion available for federal hydrogen hubs. 


Stores of hydrogen. Image used courtesy of the Massachusets Clean Energy Center

With this money, the Northeast Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (NE Hub) aims to advance clean hydrogen production, consumption, and infrastructure in the region, targeting hard-to-decarbonize sectors like transportation and heavy industry. Within this, the NE Hub's hydrogen projects will prioritize clean electrolytic hydrogen production, create an ecosystem that connects hydrogen producers and users, and further build the hydrogen research and development community.

Ultimately, each of these states is motivated by reaching its own sustainability and emissions goals, with hydrogen as a promising path forward. The interest shown by the NE Hub signifies the transition of hydrogen power from an idea confined to the research realm to something getting real-world investment and attention. With this increased investment, it seems likely that hydrogen will likely find greater adoption in the United States in the coming decades.