As West Virginia unlocks hydrogen hub potential, Manchin says more details are straight ahead

West Virginia is part of a national splash, a $7 billion announcement for a series of hydrogen energy production hubs to be developed in seven regions. Now, according to Senator Joe Manchin, watch for more.

Joe Manchin

“I’m telling you in advance, that by Monday afternoon, there will be a major gathering that will explain A through Z of what we’re doing and what to expect,” Manchin, D-W.Va., said on MetroNews “Talkline.”

He added, “You’ll be able to hear from the people that are investing their money, betting on this site to be a complement to what they’re doing.”

West Virginia will benefit from up to $925 million in federal grant money for interconnected hydrogen energy projects in the Appalachian region. President Joe Biden made an announcement Friday about seven such projects in different regions. The money is part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that passed Congress in 2021.

The Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub involves not only West Virginia but also communities in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

The hub is not just one centralized facility, but instead represents a network of connected and collaborative facilities meant to bolster the nation’s production of hydrogen as a fuel.

The Appalachian hub will be connected by hydrogen pipelines, multiple hydrogen fueling stations and permanent carbon dioxide storage. Federal officials called Appalachian a strategic location because it is rich in natural gas that will be feedstock to produce the hydrogen.

During a background session for reporters, senior Biden administration officials described production nodes in Belle in Kanawha County, Follansbee in Brooke County, Washington in Wood County, Point Pleasant in Mason County and Fairmont in Marion County.

Aspects of the development are likely to include:

  • new facilities to manufacture and assemble equipment to produce hydrogen from electricity and water.
  • new facilities to produce hydrogen and ammonia using captured coal-mine methane from abandoned mines.
  • projects to build new or convert existing facilities to use hydrogen as a fuel for industrial manufacturing, chemical plants, data centers, power generation, and more.
  • hydrogen distribution to supply fuel cell-powered trucks, buses and other vehicles.
  • pipeline infrastructure to transport hydrogen and natural gas-hydrogen blends.
  • underground facilities to store carbon dioxide captured during blue hydrogen production.

The overarching project, named ARCH2, is anticipated to bring more than 21,000 direct jobs — 18,000 because of construction and 3,000 workers for the hub.

“Now we have to be able to get delivery — pipelines — but it just opens up approximately 20,000 jobs, and most of them will be in West Virginia. Some parts in Ohio and some part of western Pennsylvania, but the crux of it is in West Virginia, and the headquarters will be probably in north central, in the Morgantown area,” Manchin said.

Besides the state governments, partners include EQT Corporation, Battelle and GTI Energy plus Allegheny Science & Technology. Since its inception the project has grown to include additional partners as well.

The Biden administration has said that in addition to the federal funding, more than $40 billion in private funding is anticipated.

Manchin said the private investment is a key to the concept’s success. The federal dollars will need matching private funding, he said.

“People have to put money in. This is not just the federal government carrying the ball,” Manchin said. “No, everybody’s got to put skin in the game. You’ll be able to hear from them on Monday.”

Shelley Moore Capito

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., also said the hydrogen hub project has significant potential.

“You can use the hydrogen to power cars, to create manufacturing, to have fuel cells, to power data centers because we know those are big energy eaters, and I think that’s what the hydrogen hub will do all across the country — particularly the one in Appalachia that we scored will be using natural gas, so we get to use our own energy sources,” Capito said on “Talkline.”

“With these nodes, what you’re talking about is manufacturing and storage facilities for hydrogen. So for instance, if you’re going to be using hydrogen to create batteries, naturally if you’re developing the hydrogen exploration there in, say, Belle, you would naturally think that right next door would be a battery manufacturer. So these are going to be manufacturing hubs.”

Capito said the 40 partners in the project will be key to the project’s success.

“So it’s not just say the state entities that are going to be the ones that are gonna push this off the ground. This is going to go to private industry where they’re going to be using these hydrogen hubs to not just do further exploration but to develop new battery systems, new battery storage, ways to power this country through hydrogen.”

Steve Roberts

The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce praised West Virginia’s participation at the center of the hydrogen hub activity.

“Our state is an energy leader and can help supply the world’s growing need for affordable, 21st Century energy,” stated Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia Chamber.

Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice, who has supported West Virginia’s bid for the hub along with Capito and Manchin, also expressed excitement.

“It’s just another great big step forward in West Virginia, my gracious sakes a living,” Justice said at a news briefing. The governor also acknowledged the public-private partnership, saying “the state has coordinated many different systems that are public and private both.”

The Biden administration anticipates the hubs will be key aspects of a clean energy economy with new jobs and economic opportunities.

The other hubs include: Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub, which represents the location Biden was visiting in Philadelphia; California Hydrogen Hub; Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub in Texas; Heartland Hydrogen Hub in the Upper Midwest; Midwest Hydrogen Hub; and Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub.

The H2Hubs, as they are sometimes called, are expected to collectively produce three million metric tons of hydrogen annually.

“As a clean fuel, hydrogen complements the role played by other clean energy sources, like wind and solar, to help the U.S. reduce emissions in energy-intensive sectors of the economy: steel and cement production, heavy-duty transportation, and shipping,’’ the White House said in a statement.

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