TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan (TBEN) — Seven Midwestern states are teaming up to accelerate the development of hydrogen as a clean energy alternative for cars and factories that rely largely on climate-warming fossil fuels, governors said Monday.
The partnership includes Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, whose economies are dominated by agriculture and heavy industry, such as steel and auto manufacturing.
“The Midwest will continue to lead the future of mobility and energy innovation and has tremendous potential for transformative hydrogen investments,” said Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless gas that already powers some cars, trucks, buses and trains. But a shortage of gas stations limits their appeal. Some environmentalists are skeptical because most commercially produced hydrogen in the US comes from natural gas, which emits carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.
But hydrogen can be derived using electric currents from wind, sun, or other means that produce little or no emissions that contribute to global warming. Such “clean hydrogen” only releases water as a by-product when used in a fuel cell.
“We don’t have to choose between clean energy and clean air and creating high-paying jobs and a strong economy — we can do both,” Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said.
The federal infrastructure law enacted last year included $8 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy to fund regional “hubs” that would ramp up the production and distribution of clean hydrogen.
Climate legislation signed by President Joe Biden last month provides a tax credit designed to make clean hydrogen more competitive.
Those measures “made it almost certain that clean hydrogen development will become an important alternative for energy production, both in the Midwest and nationally,” said Zachary Kolodin, Michigan’s chief infrastructure officer.
States in the Rocky Mountains and the Deep South announced regional associations earlier this year. Another was proposed for the Los Angeles Basin in California.
The Midwestern Hydrogen Coalition has not committed to jointly pursuing federal funding, although smaller groups of states or industries could apply for grants.
Instead, the seven-state partnership will focus on boosting development, markets, supply chains and workforces for clean hydrogen, a joint statement said.
It will benefit from assets such as the region’s pipelines and tanks for the distribution and storage of ammonia, which is largely made up of hydrogen and is a key ingredient in fertilizers.