Kansas Coalition to Take Step Toward Development of Regional Hydrogen Hub
LAWRENCE — A coalition of Kansas public entities and private partners will apply for federal funding that could make Kansas a regional hub in the emerging hydrogen economy.
The Kansas-based HARVEST Hydrogen Hub Coalition — which includes the University of Kansas and dozens of partners spanning various industry sectors — will pursue a full application for the U.S. Department of Energy's Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs Program, which will allocate up to $7 billion in federal funds to develop as many as 10 regional clean hydrogen hubs across the nation. Successful applicants will establish regional networks of hydrogen producers, consumers and local connective infrastructure — all toward the goal of building a robust national hydrogen-based energy sector that generates low-cost sustainable power, stimulates economic growth and benefits communities.
In December, the DOE encouraged the HARVEST Coalition to pursue a full application for the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs Program. The formal encouragement was based on an initial concept paper submitted by the HARVEST team in November. The DOE received 79 papers from a variety of public and private applicants - some large alliances of states and/or corporations - across the nation. The HARVEST Coalition was one of just 33 applicants to earn official encouragement to move forward.
"We are excited to partner with major industrial and government players to put forward a successful proposal for economic development and energy diversification," said Jay Kalbas, the state geologist of Kansas and director of the Kansas Geological Survey at KU, and who chaired the coalition effort. "Kansas has a unique energy portfolio and storage capabilities that, coupled with natural and human resources, make it a premier location to grow the nation's hydrogen production capabilities. We are proud of our partners and companies in Kansas that are leading the way to develop this resource while showing that hydrogen can be a major driver of economic growth for Kansas and the Midwest."
The HARVEST Hydrogen Hub Coalition is an alliance of public and private entities in Kansas — including Black & Veatch, Evergy, NextEra Energy and Enel Green Power, to name a few — that have a strong interest in the development of a productive hydrogen-based energy sector that supports a range of economic activity and acts as a hub for the future national hydrogen infrastructure.
The HARVEST hydrogen hub's concept proposes to utilize industry investments of more than $1 billion and matching funds from the DOE to advance production and usage plans in three defined regions of the state. In so doing, it leverages several distinctive factors that position Kansas to be a uniquely productive leader in the nation's hydrogen ecosystem, including:
- some of the lowest wholesale electrical generation costs in the nation, fostered by significant electrical generation from wind, solar and nuclear sources
- a strategic location in the center of the United States with a robust transportation infrastructure
- robust agricultural and industrial sectors that can readily consume derivative products made from hydrogen
- extensive underground storage potential in salt deposits that can be transitioned into storage caverns.
The coalition also benefits from KU's research expertise, infrastructure and status as one of the nation's leading research universities. Specifically, the statewide hydrogen initiative dovetails well with KU's "Earth, Energy + Environment" strategic research theme and with KU's commitment to fostering economic growth and prosperity in Kansas through the university's Office of Research and Office of Economic Development.
"Our coalition is united by an extraordinary vision of what is possible for the state and region if we are able to act decisively to take full advantage of Kansas' remarkable resources," Kalbas said. "This program offers the opportunity to infuse billions of dollars into the region's economy to improve energy security and expand access to key commodities while placing Kansas at the heart of a new nationwide ecosystem."
In addition to facilitating hub development, DOE funding would also enable HARVEST to coordinate dynamic community engagement and environmental justice initiatives to ensure that the benefits of clean hydrogen serve all Kansans and help alleviate challenges in disadvantaged communities throughout the region.
The HARVEST Hydrogen Hub is currently moving forward with development planning and preparation of a full application due April 7. The DOE is expected to announce funding recipients in fall 2023.
The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. The university's mission is to lift students and society by educating leaders, building healthy communities and making discoveries that change the world. The KU News Service is the central public relations office for the Lawrence campus.