Delaware, along with southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania, will play a crucial role in the development of hydrogen as an alternative fuel through the new Mid-Atlantic Energy Hub. This $7 billion federal program, announced by the Biden Administration, aims to reduce emissions and create green energy jobs.
As part of the broader hydrogen program proposed by the Biden administration, the Mid-Atlantic Energy Hub will focus on decarbonizing transportation and industrial manufacturing. The initiative’s primary objective is to build a green energy workforce and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Officials from the White House estimate that the program will reduce carbon emissions by 25 million metric tons annually, equivalent to removing 5.5 million gasoline-powered vehicles from the road.
Several entities have been confirmed to participate in the regional hub, including DuPont, Chesapeake Utilities, the University of Delaware, Bloom Energy, and Delaware-based PBF Energy. The University of Delaware, in particular, played a significant role in hydrogen research, overseeing a 17-year-long program that tested various prototype hydrogen buses. This program eventually led to the creation of a fuel cell company.
According to the Biden administration, the Mid-Atlantic hub will help accelerate hydrogen-driven decarbonization by repurposing existing oil infrastructure and utilizing established rights-of-way. The hub plans to develop renewable hydrogen production facilities, utilizing renewable and nuclear electricity through both established and innovative electrolyzer technologies. These efforts aim to reduce costs and drive further adoption of hydrogen technology.
The program also emphasizes the importance of labor agreements and workforce development. Project labor agreements, often involving union workers, will be negotiated for all projects. Additionally, nearly $14 million will be allocated to regional workforce boards to provide community college training and pre-apprenticeships. These measures are expected to create 20,800 jobs, including 14,400 in construction and 6,400 permanent positions.
Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, a Democrat, expressed enthusiasm for the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub proposal, stating that it offers a cleaner, greener, and brighter path forward with lower emissions and better job opportunities. Proponents of hydrogen argue that it presents a cleaner alternative to coal, oil, natural gas, and other fossil fuels for powering industrial sites such as steel mills, lumber yards, and chemical plants.
However, hydrogen as a clean energy source is not without its critics. Detractors raise concerns about the high cost of producing hydrogen and question whether the environmental impacts associated with its production outweigh the benefits.
Overall, the Mid-Atlantic Energy Hub represents an important step towards reducing emissions and developing green energy jobs in Delaware and the surrounding regions. With the support of various entities and the Biden administration’s focus on clean energy, this initiative has the potential to drive innovation and pave the way for a more sustainable future.