Vermont signs on to hydrogen power hub plan
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont last week received a warm welcome into New Yorks’s proposed hydrogen hub plan. The plan aims to tap into the vast amount of new federal funding available for hydrogen-based projects to help lower greenhouse gas emissions.
“Hydrogen is one of the more exciting technologies we are seeing emerge from the energy landscape,” Thomas Murray with Vermont Gas Systems. “In our example, hydrogen can be used for a couple of different things -- one of those is displace fossil fuels.”
Using the same infrastructure Vermont Gas has now, hydrogen can be burned for electricity generation or thermal benefits, without the same carbon emissions as natural gas. He says the utility is already working with GlobalFoundries on a pilot project using this technology. “Basically, do a green hydrogen project on their campus to showcase how you can use hydrogen in an industrial setting.”
It’s also an area the state of Vermont is interested in. “Vermont’s focus is really on the industrial aspect, the industrial sector, which is extremely difficult to decarbonize,” said Melissa Bailey with the Vermont Department of Public Service. She says there is a long way to go on hydrogen technology but signing on to the hydrogen hub plan is a step in the right direction. “We see hydrogen as a potential to help reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, specifically natural gas.”
“It has a stated focus of integrating renewable energy and hydrogen, so there is real potential for synergy there,” said Johnathan Dowds with Renewable Energy Vermont. But he also cautions that
it takes energy to generate hydrogen power and that the state currently doesn’t have enough excess renewable power to devote to hydrogen generation. “We just have to make sure we aren’t cannibalizing our current efforts to get renewables on the grid to produce hydrogen before there is a really optimal use for it.”
VGS’ Murray agrees, saying the federal investments are meant to kickstart the hydrogen space -- and for that, the potential is high. “There is a lot of work being done right now to fully assess where we can go with it, how do we get there cost-effectively. So, it’s early in the hydrogen growth curve but we are excited about it,” he said.
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