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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm will on Monday unveil new efforts aimed at massively cutting the cost of producing hydrogen with climate-friendly processes, according to an agency official.

Driving the news: The department will announce the "Hydrogen Shot" program to breathe life into the DOE's goal, first announced in April, to drive the costs of clean hydrogen down from about $5 per kilogram today to $1 per kilogram by 2030.

  • The rollout will include a formal "request for information" on ideas for specific, viable hydrogen demonstration projects as the DOE seeks to make clean hydrogen cost-competitive.
  • The hydrogen effort is the first under the DOE's wider new "Energy Earthshots" program, first announced in late May in the department's budget proposal, to bolster development and deployment of multiple carbon-neutral fuels.

Why it matters: The Hydrogen Shot initiative seeks to cut the cost of hydrogen fuels derived from renewable energy, or natural gas if carbon emissions are captured and stored.

The big picture: Clean hydrogen fuels are viewed as a promising technology for use by the transport sector, such as powering cargo ships and large trucks, and for energy storage. They may also play a key role in decarbonizing heavy industrial processes.

  • Right now, the high cost of producing these fuels from renewable energy sources and lack of a robust infrastructure for distributing them presents significant hurdles for deploying fuels that could help decarbonize elements of the global supply chain.
  • These include shipping assets that so far have been difficult to transition to cleaner fuels, such as heavy trucks and giant cargo ships.

By the numbers: The DOE's overall fiscal year 2022 budget request seeks roughly $400 million for various hydrogen-related efforts, a significant boost from current funding, and the department also has financing available through its Loan Programs Office, the department said.

  • More broadly, the White House is urging Congress to greatly scale up billions of dollars worth of overall clean energy R&D and demonstration efforts over multiple years.

What they're saying: "Clean hydrogen is a game changer," Granholm said. "It will help decarbonize high-polluting heavy-duty and industrial sectors, while delivering good-paying clean energy jobs and realizing a net-zero economy by 2050.”  

Go deeper

Column / Harder Line

Poor countries push for lenience in banning fossil-fuel financing

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The growing urgency of tackling global warming is colliding with the world’s deeply uneven use of the heat-trapping energy resources that are causing it.

The big picture: The long-simmering debate over the role rich and poor countries should fill in tackling climate change is reaching a boiling point.

Exclusive: New outlet backed by Bill Gates will tackle climate change

Amy Harder interviews Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm for the launch edition of Cipher. Photo: courtesy of Cipher

An energy coalition launched by Bill Gates is backing a new publication called "Cipher" dedicated to the coverage of the climate crisis, its new editor tells Axios.

Why it matters: The outlet promises to have complete editorial independence from its backer, Breakthrough Energy, a six-year-old climate advocacy network founded by Bill Gates.

Updated Sep 17, 2021 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation on powering up clean energy jobs

On Friday, September 17, Axios Climate & Energy reporter Andrew Freedman and Energy reporter Ben Geman hosted a virtual conversation on what building a fair economy with quality clean energy jobs could look like, featuring The Honorable Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and BlueGreen Alliance executive director Jason Walsh.

Sen. Alex Padilla explained how the infrastructure bill puts forth investments toward the environment, the urgency of acting on climate change at a legislative level, and how recent climate emergencies have underscored that urgency. 

  • In response to questions about climate investments in the infrastructure bill: “We need to act with urgency, we need to act boldly, that’s half the equation. It’s okay to have questions on what the price tag is, but of equal importance is knowing that we’re doing this in a fiscally responsible way.” 
  • On garnering necessary bipartisan support for the infrastructure bill to pass: “I do believe we’re going to get to yes at the end of the day, and that end of the day is going to be in the weeks ahead, not the months ahead, because of the urgency that I just laid out.” 

Jason Walsh highlighted the important intersection between climate action and clean energy jobs, the challenges of creating high-quality jobs in the power sector, and how budget reconciliation would help to meet clean energy job goals. 

  • On addressing crises relating to job creation, economic and racial inequality, and the climate emergency: “We have the ability with budget reconciliation to advance solutions to these crises that are as mutually reinforcing and intersecting as their causes. We feel like we can’t afford not to take advantage of this opportunity.”
  • On why budget reconciliation must address the lack of high-quality clean energy jobs: “Not enough of the clean energy jobs that have been created are high quality and union. They have not been created at scale in some of the communities and parts of the country that need them the most, and the lived experience of workers dislocated from incumbent industries, coal mining and power plants, doesn’t meet any reasonable standard of fairness and justice.”

Thank you Bank of America for sponsoring this event.