The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is gearing up to review full applications submitted from developers, governments and research institutions looking to land some of the $7 billion to be awarded this fall for the development of six to 10 regional clean hydrogen hubs across the U.S.

Funds to create the hubs are part of the $8 billion hydrogen hub program made available through the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Earlier this year, the DOE encouraged 33 projects—out of 79—to submit full applications seeking federal funds.

“DOE looks forward to reviewing full applications and anticipates selecting projects for award negotiations in fall 2023,” a DOE spokesperson said. “The department will release more information on selected applications following the merit review process and selections announcement.”

Selected hubs will be announced in the fall from the full applications that were due on April 7.

Championed for its near-zero greenhouse-gas emissions, hydrogen is used mostly today in petroleum refining and fertilizer production. However, backers see great potential in hydrogen to power fuel cells, generate electricity and be a transportation fuel, displacing carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Hopes are the hydrogen hubs, which put hydrogen producers and consumers in the same area with connected infrastructure, will help scale hydrogen use and help lower emissions to slow global warming. 

Projects that received the encourage notification addressed each element deemed by the DOE as critical to an H2Hub: comprising production, end-uses and connective infrastructure; demonstrating capabilities to execute a project plan or to attract and hire such capabilities; planning to deploy proven technologies; and indicating commitments to clean hydrogen and meaningful community benefits.

The Gulf Coast’s HyVelocity Hub was among the proposed hubs that submitted a full application for funding. HyVelocity hopes existing hydrogen infrastructure and customers in the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast regions will give the team an edge in the competition for funding. The planned hub—which will use as feedstock natural gas with carbon capture and renewables— would expand, modify and repurpose existing infrastructure.

“Scaling up clean hydrogen production, storage and delivery systems will be vital for energy, environmental and economic security for communities in the Gulf Coast region, while ensuring that prosperity is accessible to all,” Paula A. Gant, president and CEO of GTI Energy, part of the HyVelocity team, said in an April 10 news release. “We are proud to collaborate with a diverse set of partners to lead the way in further building the hydrogen ecosystem to provide secure, low-carbon energy supplies and well-paying jobs to fuel local economies—with a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of underserved communities.”

The Gulf Coast is already home to more than 1,000 miles of hydrogen pipelines and 48 production plants, HyVelocity said, more than any other region in the U.S.

Besides GTI Energy, HyVelocity’s team includes The Center for Houston’s Future, University of Texas at Austin and seven major corporate participants—including Air Liquide, Chevron, Ørsted and Sempra Infrastructure. It has support from more than 90 commercial, academic, nonprofit and government supporters, according to the release.

Other hubs have announced they submitted full applications.

The Northeast Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub is comprised of New York, New Jersey, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont and Massachusetts. The hub, which will produce hydrogen via electrolysis, is seeking $1.25 billion in funding for its proposed $3.62 billion investment. More than a dozen hydrogen projects are being planned across the seven participating states for the hub that has attracted about 100 partners.

If the hub receives federal funding, it plans to develop in four phases over 10 years to 12 years, according to a news release.

“With this proposal, we have a unique opportunity to leverage substantial federal funding to begin building a market for clean hydrogen that will address some of our most difficult to decarbonize sectors,” Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey said in a news release. “The Northeast Hydrogen Hub will create opportunity, prioritize equity and enable significant progress toward our ambitious climate requirements. I look forward to working with this impressive coalition of state leaders and partners in the private sectors to bring economic growth and industry to the region.”

On the West Coast, Obsidian Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Hub, which will be 100% powered by renewable electricity in Oregon and Washington, also submitted a full application.

“Our plan is unique. We will connect purpose-built wind and solar to electrolyzers, allowing the region to develop renewable energy that isn’t otherwise accessible, turning it into flexible, reliable generation,” said Ken Dragoon, Obsidian Renewables’ director of hydrogen development. “The hub’s primary objective is to provide the lowest-cost green hydrogen to its customers. Achieving this requires the availability of low-cost, low-carbon feedstocks, affordable storage and production near customers. Our plan will do just that.”

Developers said they plan to leverage private funding with $700 million from the DOE for a multibillion-dollar hydrogen production, storage and distribution project with anchor sites in Moses Lake, Washington and Hermiston, Oregon.