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The Need for Energy Diversification

On Friday, October 13, the Biden Administration announced $7 billion in funding to establish 7 “Hydrogen Hubs” or networks of clean hydrogen producers, consumers, and storage facilities in the United States. These “Hubs” are identified as follows:

  1. Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub (MACH2): Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey
  2. Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub (ARCH2): West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania
  3. Alliance for Renewable Clean Hydrogen Energy Systems (ARCHES): California
  4. HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub: Texas
  5. Heartland Hydrogen Hub: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota
  6. Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2): Illinois, Indiana, Michigan
  7. PNW H2: Washington, Oregon, Montana

As a self-professed “Hydrogen Gal,” I have been advocating for clean hydrogen as a viable source of renewable energy for many years. What surprised me during those early years was the strong opposition I encountered from the electric energy community. I found this confusing because I have equally promoted all forms of renewable energy and emphasized the importance of energy diversification. We cannot depend on a single resource for all our energy needs. We need to embrace all forms of energy that do not cause pollution or long-term damage to our environment. Understandably, this will take time.

In the past three years, I’ve had the privilege of interviewing a wide array of experts and innovators across various technological domains, including electric, hydrogen, nuclear, methane (natural gas), and magnetic technologies. It’s important to acknowledge that none of these technologies is flawless, but our priority should be to find practical solutions rather than engaging in unproductive arguments.

Every energy resource comes with its inherent challenges. Among them, petroleum stands out as the most detrimental, from the environmental impact of drilling to the pollution caused by combustion. Yet, we remain heavily reliant on it. While the complete elimination of petroleum from our lives might be unrealistic, it’s imperative to recognize that burning petroleum is the worst option for our planet.

Electric energy has gained significant support as a pathway to renewable energy, but it too has its limitations. Issues such as unreliable grids, inadequate electric line maintenance, and the dependence on lithium-ion batteries, which rely on rare and controversial materials often sourced from environmentally and socially problematic areas, need to be addressed. However, this doesn’t mean we should abandon electric technology altogether. Instead, we should focus on adaptation, improving recycling capabilities, and developing materials that are more sustainable and readily available.

While searching for new mining sites may be a short-term necessity, it’s not a long-term solution. We should strive to streamline our recycling processes to reduce our reliance on mining.

It’s essential to accept that there’s no single, perfect solution. We must utilize the available options like solar, wind, geothermal, and magnetic energy, and concentrate on the overarching goal of achieving clean and sustainable energy. It’s counterproductive to engage in internal debates about which technology is the best; rather, we should work collaboratively toward a greener future.