AN ANALYSIS OF THE BARRIERS TO DEPLOYMENT AND SUPPORTIVE POLICIES FOR THE COMMERCIALIZATION OF HYDROGEN ENERGY
Hydrogen technology was created in the 1830s and is considered a versatile and mature technology, but it has not scaled to achieve the commercial hydrogen economy many supporters of the industry envisioned. Recently, hydrogen technology garnered billions of dollars in financial investment from the federal government and private industry to catalyze its commercialization. The current Biden Administration announced ambitious goals to decarbonize the United States economy and made investments in clean hydrogen to partake in accomplishing these goals. The United States Congress also made major investments in the development of clean hydrogen via provisions passed and pending passage seen in P.L.117-58 - Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and H.R. 5376 - Build Back Better Act (BBBA). These federal investments are reviewed and further examined in this paper. Although hydrogen has the potential to become a consequential clean energy resource and important decarbonization tool, it is currently primarily produced from fossil fuels. This raises legitimate concerns over its true potential to meaningfully serve as a low-carbon alternative and address the climate crisis. Therefore, due to hydrogen’s maturity as a technology and carbon intensive production portfolio, this paper identifies the barriers to deployment for scaling clean hydrogen while highlighting the potential climate impacts. Current and anticipated federal resources, as well as policy recommendations to overcome the enumerated barriers will be made. Emerging technologies do not exist in a vacuum and are influenced by political climates, societal events, and economic activity, which is a key theme of the curriculum for the Masters of Science Energy Policy and Climate program at Johns Hopkins University. This paper is informed by the scientific, technical, and policy knowledge and research skills gained from this masters program as well as from my Bachelors of Science Chemistry from Chapman University. Additionally, my professional experience in government affairs, climate advocacy, and clean energy policy development was utilized to guide the robust resource selection and analysis for this paper. This paper’s findings are meant to be continually built upon and add to the body of knowledge policy-makers can utilize regarding the commercialization of hydrogen energy.
Hydrogen, Hydrogen Hub, Green Hydrogen, Blue Hydrogen, IIJA, Electrolysis, Electrolyzer, Polymer Electrolyte Membrane, Steam Methane Reformation, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Build Back Better Act, Fuel Cell