When the federal government passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in 2021, it came with a direction for the Department of Energy. That direction was to create four hubs across the country for the development and implementation of hydrogen fuel technologies. Now, over a year later, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach want to be one of those hubs.
The ports are vying for a federal grant to develop their infrastructure surrounding this new technology. The DOE has $10 billion to distribute as it sees fit to develop the four hubs. And, as the state of California is trying to reduce emissions in its transportation industry, having an alternative to electricity could be huge.
Hydrogen fuel is a clean fuel alternative with potential.
The potential for hydrogen as a source of fuel is clear. Hydrogen burns cleanly, so it would help reduce carbon emissions significantly if vehicles could use it. On top of that, hydrogen vehicles have the potential to have some advantages over electric vehicles. For one, batteries are incredibly heavy, especially those powerful enough to power a vehicle. That means lower efficiency and a shorter driving distance between refuels (or recharges) for those vehicles. Hydrogen as a fuel source offers the possibility of lighter, more efficient vehicles. For those in industries like the cargo hauling industry, that could be a huge boon.
But it has some downsides.
When a lot of people think of hydrogen fuel, unfortunately, they think of the Hindenburg. This makes sense, as after that disaster, hydrogen became something of a dirty word to a lot of people. Its flammability is well-known and a cause for concern. While developers are confident that their technology will be safe, the general public has understandable concerns.
Another issue with hydrogen as a fuel source is how companies will get it in fuel form. Most current methods of obtaining hydrogen fuel on a large scale involve burning fossil fuels. This negates the environmental benefits of the fuel, calling into question how good for the environment it would really be. The technology isn’t 100% there yet, but it’s clear that these ports want to help America get there.