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Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri apply for federal funding for hydrogen hub

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Mary Stroka

(The Center Square) – Iowa and two other Midwestern states have applied for federal funding to establish a regional hydrogen hub, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced Thursday.

Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri signed a memorandum of understanding April 4 to create the Mid-Continent Clean Hydrogen Hub and apply for funding from the U.S. Department of Energy under the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The act allocates $8 billion total in funding for at least four regional hydrogen hubs.

“Together we have an opportunity to open new markets for agriculture while strengthening our commitment to American-made renewable energy,” Reynolds said in a news release. "As the regions’ leading states, we understand the power of coming together to create innovative solutions that grow our economies for the future.”

The hydrogen hub team includes Monolith Materials, Project Meadowlark, VERBIO, Ideal Energy and Greenfield Nitrogen, according to the MOU. The team and the states will develop a collaboration agreement that will establish the operations of the hydrogen hub, the roles of the states and the method of distribution of grant funding. Other states may join the MOU to support the hub. The MOU is at-will and not legally binding.

The states pledged to apply for funding with an application with partners and stakeholders to ensure the hub strengthens the economy in each of the states and the region; promotes workforce development; and incorporates the latest science, research and technology for the cost-effective production, transportation, storage and use of clean hydrogen.

The governors also said the states will protect and involve frontline and disadvantaged communities’ health, safety and labor; address pipeline safety, leak minimization and pathways for new pipeline construction; evaluate impacts of hydrogen production on water use; try to use water that’s already involved in power generation purposes; and address air quality impacts, including emissions of nitrogen oxides.

They’ll also plan expansion of MCH2 and the use of hydrogen technology over time, according to the MOU.

Iowa Economic Development Authority and the DOE funded an August 2022 Ideal Energy and IEDA study of the economic viability and impact of a renewable hydrogen economy in the Hawkeye State.

It found that Iowa could see a $1.19 billion increase in its gross state product and more than 7,000 new jobs by 2030. By 2050, there could be a $6.375 billion gross state product increase and up to 35,000 new jobs.

“The employment factor of renewable hydrogen surpasses wind energy and compares favorably with solar energy,” the report said.

Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen said the partnership will bolster his state’s and the Midwest’s economy through billions of dollars of investment and hundreds of new jobs.

"This hydrogen hub once again shows Nebraska's commitment to renewable energy and our leadership in improving our country's energy security,” he said.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said the partnership will strengthen the energy portfolio of his state and the Midwest.

“This partnership looks to the future and the collective strength of our economies by bolstering reliable renewable energy sources and promoting energy security all while supporting opportunities for Missouri farmers and ranchers, business investment, and good-paying jobs across the region,” he said.

The DOE anticipates inviting applicants to pre-selection interviews in the summer and announcing and negotiating awards by the beginning of spring 2024.