The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) are in the beginning phases of a significant energy transformation.
The result will be a healthy and thriving environment for those who live and work in the region, fueled by climate change, technical and process innovation, and a people committed to stewarding our natural resources wisely.
By delivering the next generation of the energy ecosystem, the DMV can exhibit significant regional and national leadership in achieving climate goals and objectives. This will result in economic expansion, the creation of tens of thousands of high-quality employment, and the creation of safer environments throughout our whole area, including our most impoverished communities.
While electrification is viewed as a crucial strategy for decarbonizing energy usage in the District of Columbia, it is important to emphasize that not all end uses can be decarbonized through electrification alone.
In addition, although significant development in renewable electricity generation is anticipated in the region, the demand for the electric system cannot be covered completely by renewables in the near future. To achieve the region’s objectives, tackling climate change in the DMV will require increasingly inventive solutions.
One of the most promising of these novel options is hydrogen. It is the most abundant element on Earth and one of the most adaptable components in our array of renewable energy solutions. In addition, it acts as a strategic partner to other sustainable energy transition programs and technologies, such as electrification.
Hydrogen can be produced, transported, stored, and employed in a variety of ways to decarbonize the most difficult-to-mitigate sectors in the DMV. It can store and generate clean energy and heat for use in industrial processes, as well as enable transportation with zero emissions.
Hydrogen is an innovative clean energy transition solution that can cut greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, improve health outcomes, reduce carbon’s social costs, boost economic activity, and increase tax revenue. By establishing itself as a leader in the emerging hydrogen economy, the DMV can gain access to additional jobs, skilled workforce development, economic growth, and investments in an innovative environment.
The DMV has the opportunity to establish a regional hydrogen economy that connects and sustains a national hydrogen ecosystem.
The DMV is ideally placed in the middle of the mid-Atlantic and at the crossroads of the Atlantic seaboard, making it the indispensable hub for integrating existing and future hydrogen systems in the Northeast, Southeast, and Midwest. The region encompasses aviation and airports, public transit, commercial ground mobility (fleets, heavy and long-haul trucking, logistics, and equipment), maritime and ports, data centers, industrial activities, built environment and infrastructure (commercial and residential buildings), stationary power, grid generation, and grid storage, among others.
Interstate 95 and Interstate 81 are two of the most heavily traveled trucking corridors in the country, with both lanes predicted to carry more than 8,500 trucks per day on average by 2040. The region is also home to major port operations in Baltimore, Richmond, and Norfolk, as well as the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Ronald Reagan Washington National, and Washington Dulles International airports — facilities that are vital to the East Coast and global economies.
The addition of hydrogen to the set of methods employed to prevent climate change has substantial benefits. Through its National Capital Hydrogen Center program, the regional charity Connected DMV has completed the DMV Hydrogen Greenprint, a study of the potential to deploy hydrogen throughout the DMV region. The analysis revealed that the region would gain approximately:
- 2,7 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2 were reduced.
- $150 million reduction in carbon’s societal costs (e.g., reduced burden on health care systems).
- Increase in economic activity by $1.7 billion for the local economy.
- Increase of $490 million in state and federal tax receipts.
In addition, if the projected deployment is implemented, the DMV might create over 9,000 jobs by 2030.
The DMV region offers existing and expanding demand and production possibilities for clean hydrogen.
The DMV is home to more than 15 million people, making it the sixth biggest metropolitan region in the United States. The high concentration of government facilities, data centers, significant ports and airports, and large regional public and private ground transportation networks present prospects for hydrogen-based decarbonization in the region.
Future hydrogen production may be supported by the District of Columbia’s abundant and expanding sustainable electricity generation industry. Over 35% of the region’s electricity is generated by nuclear power, and renewable energy sources, like as solar and offshore wind, are expected to develop dramatically in the DMV. These emission-free power generation assets can fuel the hydrogen economy in the District of Columbia and beyond. Other low-carbon hydrogen sources are anticipated to be included in the region’s future supply mix.
The DMV region’s hydrogen prognosis is enhanced by diversification of hydrogen offtakes, although concerted work is required.
Scalable development necessitates collaboration across the value chain to plan, finance, and create end-use projects as well as the infrastructure to enable the production, delivery, and storage of hydrogen. Participants in a future ecosystem will need to collaborate to reach scale due to the region’s extensive and varied hydrogen application cases.
The geographical proximity and variety of applications within the DMV region provide potential for cross-sector collaboration that optimizes and scales infrastructure investments. The DMV can, on a large scale, develop a hydrogen network that connects the transportation industry, airports, maritime ports, and other commercial and industrial customers.
Attaining the scale required to reap the benefits of a sustainable hydrogen economy requires the dedication and investment of federal, state, and local governments, the commercial sector, and community-based groups. The DMV must jointly plan and execute the investments required to build an interconnected hydrogen ecosystem that connects hydrogen producers and end-users with the accompanying distribution and storage infrastructure necessary to achieve economies of scale.