“The biggest challenge the energy transition faces today is how to bridge the gap to allow renewables to replace fossil fuel electric power generation safely and reliably," Hy Stor Energy CEO Laura L. Luce said. “We believe the approach we’re taking in Mississippi will become the blueprint for future green hydrogen projects that not only address the energy transition challenges we face but also bring new jobs, economic revitalization, and low-cost energy to communities in the region. We see this as an important way of advancing U.S. climate leadership.”
The companies selected Mississippi for the green hydrogen hub because of its business environment, naturally occurring underground salt formations, and access to existing infrastructure, like interstate gas pipelines and electric transmission lines.
“We’re excited to welcome Hy Stor Energy and hydrogen innovators to Mississippi,” said Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives Philip Gunn. “Their investment and eventual success here will improve workforce development, bring high-paying jobs to our state, and encourage other businesses to invest in the talent and infrastructure we’ve built together.”
In the U.S., 95% of hydrogen is produced using natural gas, according to the Dept. of Energy. So-called "blue hydrogen" incorporates carbon capture and storage, though recent studies suggest the practice could produce even more carbon emissions in heat generation than using natural gas alone.
Long term, hydrogen produced using clean-powered electrolyzers can serve as a backbone fuel for grid stability, but the volume of green hydrogen produced worldwide is still very small due to a lack of infrastructure and clean power needed for production.
The Biden administration, to its part, is prioritizing research of carbon capture and green hydrogen production to fuel industrial facilities, heavy-duty trucks, and cargo ships --- areas recognized as difficult to decarbonize.
A study by the Center on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University advocated for investments in the U.S. natural gas pipeline system to support the eventual shift from natural gas to cleaner, low-to-no carbon fuels. Not for several more decades will zero-carbon fuels be ready to replace natural gas as the backbone of the energy mix, the authors wrote, and pipeline upgrades can support the transportation of hydrogen and biogas.
While some renewable energy and environmental advocates fear investments in fossil fuel infrastructure will delay the clean energy transition, and enable some of the world's largest polluters, pipeline upgrades could provide the best chance of swapping out natural gas as the backbone of the energy system.