US: $50M federal grant for clean hydrogen in South Louisiana

A coalition of 25 organizations from all around South Louisiana received a $50 million government grant from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). By spanning the clean hydrogen life cycle from research and development at Louisiana colleges to an end-use project at the Port of South Louisiana, H2theFuture will create a new energy hub in South Louisiana.

Michael Hecht, CEO & President of Greater New Orleans, Inc., remarked “We are appreciative of the vision of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Economic Development Administration that made H2theFuture possible.” Additionally, we would like to express our thanks to the dedication and confidence of the twenty-one organizations from South Louisiana who helped make this exciting initiative possible.

A $1 billion provision from the American Rescue Plan Act, which intends to speed up economic recovery from the epidemic and restore American communities, especially those enduring decades of disinvestment, was used to support 21 projects from throughout the nation that was selected from 529 applications. The State of Louisiana will provide $24.5 million in matching money to the award, bringing the total project cost to $74.5 million.

According to Governor John Bel Edwards, today’s statement by President Biden and Secretary of Commerce Raimondo marks a crucial turning point in Louisiana’s transition to a cleaner, more sustainable, and more diversified energy future. “Louisiana has shown the vision and leadership necessary to address the historic challenge that climate change brings as the first state in the Gulf South to develop a Climate Action Plan. In addition to the over $20 billion in private capital investment in Louisiana emissions reduction projects announced in the last two years alone, this infusion of federal and state funds will help us get closer to the ultimate goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Greater New Orleans, Inc. and its affiliate Greater New Orleans Development Foundation will lead the development and implementation of H2theFuture’s clean hydrogen cluster strategy, which will significantly reduce carbon emissions in the South Louisiana industrial corridor while retaining and creating jobs in Louisiana. The H2theFuture Coalition will carry out initiatives across five connected workstreams, each of which is financed separately by this grant:

H2Workforce is a program of the Louisiana Community & Technical College System that offers industry training to displaced employees, people from rural areas, and people of color.

H2Business Development – The Baton Rouge Area Chamber is in charge of this initiative, which is being carried out in collaboration with One Acadiana, the South Louisiana Economic Council, the Southwest Louisiana Economic Alliance, and GNO, Inc.

H2Testbeds – Nicholls State University, Louisiana State University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and University of New Orleans academic resources and initiatives to support low carbon hydrogen technology translational research

A variety of renewable energy initiatives and programs have a physical and programmatic nexus dubbed “NEXUS” at The Beach at UNO, which is owned and operated by H2NeXus (New Energy Center of the United States).

The first-ever hydrogen fuelling barge in the United States is situated at the Port of South Louisiana under the H2Public Private Partnership.

Green hydrogen has the potential to cut the overall emissions produced by hydrogen in Louisiana by up to 68%. H2theFuture is positioned at the nexus of the business and the environment. (McKinsey & Company)

Alejandra Y. Castillo, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development at the U.S. Economic Development Administration, stated that the investment will boost regional economic competitiveness in the renewable energy sector with an emphasis on fairness and include a network of HBCUs in Louisiana.

In contrast to conventional, “gray,” hydrogen, green hydrogen is produced from water rather than natural gas. An “electrolyzer,” powered by electricity produced by offshore wind, is used to extract hydrogen from water. The end product is an H2 molecule that has no carbon footprint but is chemically equivalent to one created from gray hydrogen. Next, this hydrogen is utilized as a raw material to refine steel, produce ammonia (for fertilizer), and carry out other operations. It may also be used as fuel.

Don Pierson, secretary of the Louisiana Department of Energy and Development, said that winning one of the coveted Build Back Better Challenge grants “solidifies Louisiana’s standing as a worldwide leader in the energy transition and a desirable destination for renewable energy investment and innovation.” An unusual level of stakeholder involvement and cooperation is needed for a project of this size and complexity in economic growth. In order to advance our whole state, LED is happy to have contributed to the leveraging of current economic ties and the creation of new ones.

Cooperation between 25 groups from all throughout South Louisiana led to the creation of H2theFuture. The Greater New Orleans Development Foundation/Greater New Orleans, Inc., Baton Rouge Area Chamber, Louisiana Economic Development, Southwest Louisiana Economic Alliance, South Louisiana Economic Council, One Acadiana, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, Acadiana Planning Commission, Capital Region Planning Commission, Port of South Louisiana, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Louisiana State University, University of New Orleans, and Nicholls St. are all members of the coalition.

The Baton Rouge Area Chamber’s president and CEO, Adam Knapp, congratulated the whole H2 team on receiving the EDA Award, which “demonstrates the strength of collaborative leadership.” “Our BRAC team is fully committed to making this a success. With more than $18 billion in projects announced for renewable biofuels, blue and green generation of hydrogen and ammonia, improved recycling, and carbon capture, Louisiana is already considered “ground zero” for net zero. This EDA award will build on this momentum by establishing a new industry and supply chain as a result of the industrial corridor in south Louisiana’s decarbonization activities.

Retaining, developing, and upskilling the state’s workforce is a key component of the H2theFuture agenda. More oil and gas jobs have been lost in Louisiana than in any other state in the US, with approximately 22,000 employment lost between 2001 and 2020. (Emsi). Offshore oil and gas personnel in South Louisiana have transferable capabilities that can help them in jobs associated with offshore wind and other green hydrogen-related industries. The H2theFuture coalition’s main objective is to assist these qualified people in exploring new job prospects that are connected to this evolution of hydrogen:

  • keep conventional energy jobs in applications with reduced carbon emissions
  • Educate upcoming workers about new renewable energy careers
  • Address the historical economic, environmental, and social problems with intention

The people of Louisiana are the best at understanding the need for sustainable, fair growth, according to Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (LCTCS). “In times of transition, we must make sure that our systems are adaptable, attentive to the demands of our business partners, and that we provide all of our employees’ access to the employment of the future. LCTCS will oversee H2Workforce (H2W), a project of H2theFuture that aims to develop the next generation of energy workers. Together with a number of partners, H2W will create and implement a new energy curriculum at LCTCS institutions and offer fair transitions from training into high-paying new energy professions.

With more pipelines per square mile, oil and gas employment per capita, and energy innovation than any other state in the U.S., Louisiana has been known as an “energy state” for many years. H2theFuture will collaborate with South Louisiana’s four historically black colleges and universities (Dillard University, Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, Southern University of New Orleans, and Xavier University of Louisiana) to prepare students for upcoming executive positions in the new energy sector. The organization will also support the growth of entrepreneurial ideas through industry-aligned curricula and direct in-person interactions.

According to Reynold Verret, president of Xavier University of Louisiana, “as our country and the world transition to a new energy economy, hydrogen will be a key and environmentally friendly feedstock and fuel that powers our future.” “Xavier and other Louisiana institutions will contribute to the beginning of a new era in how we power our lives in clean and sustainable ways, by educating the talent needed to lead the development and implementation of new technologies, practices, and business models and to conduct the innovative research that will map our course forward,” the statement reads.

With the largest industrial H2 usage per capita in the US and numerous other inherent benefits, Louisiana is likely the best-positioned state for a clean hydrogen cluster. There are several important resources in this region, including ports, pipelines, and individuals with extensive knowledge of the energy and industrial sectors.

Paul Matthews, CEO of Port of South Louisiana, stated, “The Port of South Louisiana has a long history of fuelling the country and the globe. “Our Port is excited that this “first of its kind” Hydrogen Fueling Barge will usher in a fleet of low-carbon boats into the trade. Our Port is committed to taking the lead in America’s energy transformation along the Lower Mississippi River. This is a modest but significant step in a wider drive to lessen our carbon footprint and expand the energy economy for South Louisianan people.

The H2theFuture grant will provide essential funds to the network of partners, enabling the development of 21 cutting-edge and significant initiatives dispersed over five key areas. The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s work on clean energy and electrolyzer development, The Beach at the University of New Orleans’ construction of the NeXus Center, and the Port of South Louisiana’s development of a hydrogen fueling barge for Mississippi River tugboats are just a few of the initiatives being undertaken.