1. Seed infrastructure for regional hydrogen “hotspots”
Co-locating the production and utilization of hydrogen will reduce transportation and storage costs.
2. Proactively develop codes and standards
Having robust codes and standards ensures that hydrogen can be used simply across the hydrogen ecosystem.
3. Research hydrogen energy carriers
Energy carriers, such as ammonia, can be used to more easily store or transport hydrogen.
4. Research how hydrogen can integrate with existing natural gas infrastructure
Utilizing existing infrastructure can reduce costs and increase hydrogen adoption.
Similar to how Uber initially launched in just a small number of cities before developing a critical mass of drivers and riders nationwide, hydrogen likely will follow a close model. These early hydrogen “hotspots,” centered around low-cost hydrogen production sources and prime customers, can build the first generation of infrastructure needed. One hotspot already exists in the United States: hundreds of miles of hydrogen pipelines serve Gulf Coast refineries.
Salt Cavern for Hydrogen Storage
When hydrogen has to travel long distances or be stored for several months, it is cheaper to turn it into ammonia and, when the hydrogen is needed, convert it back. Making ammonia is well-known; about three percent of the hydrogen produced in the U.S. today is used to make ammonia for farms, but in this case, it would be used as a vehicle to hold the hydrogen. That ammonia can be directly combusted for energy, converted back to hydrogen, or, with additional research, it could be used directly in fuel cells.
Another promising solution is to piggyback off of the current natural gas pipeline system. Britain’s third largest city, for example, determined that it was possible to run 100 percent of their network on hydrogen. Initial work in the U.S. shows up to 20 percent of hydrogen can be blended into existing natural gas pipelines without any issues. More research and collaboration with natural gas pipeline owners is needed to explore this opportunity in more parts of the United States, and how government codes and standards may need to be revisited to accommodate these new applications.