Newport News green hydrogen site moving forward despite federal funding rejection for mid-Atlantic hub

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The Biden administration did not select Virginia as part of a multistate hydrogen hub that was expected to create hundreds of jobs, but a smaller Hampton Roads site dedicated to demonstrating the potential of the green fuel is still progressing, a Virginia Tech organizer said.

In October, the U.S. Department of Energy chose to fund seven green hydrogen hubs across the country with $7 billion from by President Joe Biden’s 2021 infrastructure law. A proposed Mid-Atlantic Hydrogen Hub, which would have included Virginia, Maryland and Washington, D.C., was not among the selected sites. If selected, proponents said the project would have created 9,000 new jobs across all locations and created two hydrogen production sites in Hampton Roads.

Still, work on a smaller $6.5 million hydrogen test facility and demonstration site is progressing, said Brett Malone, Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center president. The program, which will be located in the Tech Center Research Park near Jefferson Lab in Newport News, will include a fueling station and demonstration site.

The program’s development is progressing and getting more industry interest, Malone said.

“We’re pulling a more specific demonstration project together,” he said.

When asked about when the project would be operational, Malone said in an email that the research center was still confirming plans around the timeline.

Hydrogen has attracted attention as a potential replacement for fossil fuels because it burns cleanly and can be produced with renewable energy, Malone said during a green energy talk April 23 at the research center. He said the gas isn’t a be-all, end-all energy solution, but has applications in powering heavy machinery currently powered by gasoline or diesel fuel.

“We’re not going after Teslas,” Malone said, referencing the popular electric cars. “That’s not where the use of hydrogen makes the most sense.”

Dominion Energy has successfully tested blending hydrogen in natural gas pipelines, business development manager Jonathan Warren said during the panel. However, he said the cost was too much to make sense right now.

“So, it’s a great option to make natural gas plants reduce their carbon emissions, but it makes our power bills go way up,” Warren said.

Warren said that if the Biden administration had funded the hydrogen hub, it would have lowered the price of the fuel and made it more economically feasible. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen for Virginia.

All hope is not lost, Warren added. He said he believed if the price came down due to other hydrogen hubs, it might become viable for Dominion.

To see the original article: Trevor Metcalfe, 757-222-5345,