By Ana Lucía Murillo – Staff Reporter, Washington Business Journal
Jun 24, 2022
The adoption of hydrogen power in key sectors such as long-haul trucking and data centers could bring 8,900 jobs to the D.C. region by 2030 and generate nearly $1.7 billion in new economic activity, according to a new report from a Greater Washington nonprofit focused on growing the region's economy.
This shift could also significantly reduce health care costs for residents and employers by removing an estimated 2.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, said the report released this month by Connected DMV.
"Pushing forward into the next generation of the energy ecosystem enables the DMV to demonstrate strong regional and national leadership in meeting climate goals and objectives," the report said. "This will create economic growth and establish thousands of high-quality jobs and safer environments throughout our region, including our most distressed communities."
Rick Moore, vice president of climate and energy for the group, acknowledges that the timeline is ambitious, but he believes that once companies in difficult-to-decarbonize industries adopt hydrogen, others will follow. “That’s really the starting point of what it can look like,” said Moore.
Started just before the pandemic, Connected DMV is made up of business leaders as well as representatives from universities, the public sector and nonprofits and aims to “solve complex regional challenges,” according to its website.
Recently, it announced an initiative to help close the racial gap in hiring in professional services. Its 18 trustees include top executives from the United Way of the National Capital Area, the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and the Economic Club of Washington, among other top regional businesses and organizations.
The group says the region is already making progress toward decarbonizing its economy, and so its report, dubbed the DMV Hydrogen Greenprint, focuses on ways to complement work that’s already being done by targeting sectors that are difficult to decarbonize through other methods.
“We’re looking for places where operationally, a solution like hydrogen is required,” said Moore. That includes things like data centers — of which the region has many — as well as airports, maritime vessels and ports, long-haul trucking, commercial fleets, public transit and even some defense and intelligence facilities that have clean energy mandates.
Coinciding with the release of the report, Connected DMV announced a steering committee for the group's new National Capital Hydrogen Center. The same group that put together the report, it consists of representatives from the public and private sectors,such as the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), George Mason University, Virginia Tech, the National Resources Defense Council, the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Innovation, Washington Gas, Bloom Energy and others.
That group is starting a new initiative called H2DMV in which it will identify new projects that can begin bringing hydrogen to the region and make them commercially viable as quickly as possible. “Those projects really need to be end-to-end, and that’s where the center can help as a nonprofit intermediary to bring these groups together to help identify and support these projects,” said Moore.
It's also putting together a bid on behalf of the region for a share of the billions of dollars in funding the Department of Energy plans to parcel out to create regional hydrogen hubs in the country.
“An infrastructure investment of approximately $11.2 billion by 2030 will be required to achieve the production potential of the wider DMV region,” the report said.
The group is currently working to raise funds for its hydrogen initiatives from corporate stakeholders, as well as state and local governments, said Stu Solomon, president and CEO of the organization. “It’s a variety of different funding sources that make this possible,” said Solomon.