By Charles McConnell
Caller Times, Jul. 8, 2022
From the days of Spindletop, Texas has been the country’s leader in energy production. Currently one-fourth of the nation’s domestic energy production comes from the Lone Star State.
And Texas will continue to be the energy leader of the future not just domestically but globally as well. A future that will ensure that energy will be reliable, affordable and carbon neutral. It is a future that will include, among several key transformative markets, a hydrogen economy that will help power our everyday lives.
Hydrogen can be produced and consumed in an affordable, reliable, and clean manner, and as the United States Department of Energy (DOE) has stated, hydrogen will “enable U.S. energy security, resiliency, and economic prosperity.”
As a global leader in the oil and gas and petrochemicals industry, Texas has the opportunity to lead the way. We can realize the economic and environmental benefits of advancing this fuel of the future.
The DOE has made clear that hydrogen is the wave of the future and is seeking further opportunities for the use of it. That includes “steel manufacturing, the production of ammonia and liquid fuels (using CO2 plus hydrogen), and the use of hydrogen for marine, rail, datacenter, and heavy-duty vehicle applications.”
And fuel substitution of hydrogen for the vast usage required within the hydrocarbon and power industry will enable the long-term utilization of natural gas – that is decarbonized through carbon capture – to fuel this hydrogen growth.
Hydrogen can also play a key role in everyday transportation. While electric vehicles will certainly be part of our future, the time it takes to charge one and its restrictions on how far it can travel on one charge will be part of that future challenge. Hydrogen-powered vehicles for long-haul trucking and industrial use will certainly be a part of the portfolio of choices as we pursue carbon neutrality.
One way to help close that gap is through hydrogen gas. A 2017 Texas Monthly article points out that “by storing energy in the form of hydrogen gas, the fuel cell vehicle has a range and refueling time on a par with gasoline automobiles, resulting in little change to the consumer mindset, behavior, or convenience factor.”
In October of 2021, Sen. John Cornyn and others introduced a bipartisan bill package to incentivize hydrogen infrastructure and adoption of hydrogen in certain sectors. The initiative creates research and grant programs for advancements in hydrogen infrastructure to explore this energy future.
And cities like Corpus Christi are already preparing for this. In February of 2022, the Port of Corpus Christi and Apex Clean Energy, Ares, and EPIC Midstream entered an agreement to explore development of a hydrogen hub, including decarbonized hydrogen production, storage, transportation, and export. This agreement builds upon an agreement from May of 2021 to work towards developing infrastructure to support decarbonized, green hydrogen production.
As the Port knows, the vast majority of global hydrogen pipeline miles are in Texas and the Gulf Coast and such infrastructure is unprecedented. It’s a built-in jump start and part of our competitive advantage. By investing in hydrogen and new innovating technologies, Texas can continue to be the energy leader, add jobs, drive our energy system to carbon neutrality, and power our nation for decades to come.
Charles McConnell is the Executive Director for Carbon Management and Energy Sustainability at the University of Houston and an Advisory Board Member of the Carbon Neutral Coalition.