On Monday, July 12th, 2021, the Labor Energy Partnership (LEP), an initiative of the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI) and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), held a virtual workshop on hydrogen and carbon capture and storage (CCS) in the Ohio River Valley. The workshop, one in a series on decarbonizing the economy, convened leaders from government, labor, and industry for a robust discussion on the value of hydrogen and CCS market formation to the local economy and global energy transition and what is needed from the government, labor, and industry to facilitate its development.
The purpose of this event was to catalyze the conversation among key thought leaders on how a hydrogen and CCS regional hub in the Ohio River Valley region could accelerate the decarbonization of the economy while maintaining the jobs and economic output associated with power generation and industry. To accomplish these objectives in the near term—an increasingly important timeframe considering net-zero targets—low-carbon fuels and processes will be necessary.
Hydrogen, combined with CCS technologies, offers such an option. Showcasing this option is critical as policymakers consider infrastructure funding, continuing economic recovery pathways post-COVID, and implementation of the strengthened U.S. Nationally Determined Contribution developed for COP-26 in Glasgow. Hydrogen is a clean energy carrier that can support the decarbonization of many critical sectors. Producing hydrogen from natural gas using existing commercial technology, capturing the carbon emissions from hydrogen production, then permanently sequestering the carbon is the definition of “blue hydrogen.” The blue hydrogen pathway could also support the policy and regulatory infrastructures that could enable “green hydrogen”—hydrogen produced via electrolysis of water with zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions electricity—as the technology becomes affordable.
In addition, CCS technology can be used independently of hydrogen for decarbonization of heavy emitters, including coal and gas-fired power plants, and heavy-emitting industrial facilities, such as chemical manufacturers, steel furnaces, and cement plants. Given the multiple productions and utilization options, current high costs, and the need for additional storage and transportation infrastructure, regional hubs seem to offer the best way forward to share resources, products, costs, and infrastructure and to accelerate hydrogen market formation. This LEP workshop focused on the Ohio River Valley as a potential leader in the formation of a regional hub for hydrogen and CCS where tri-state (Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia) cooperation could help meet low carbon targets while preserving and creating jobs in the region.