Hawaii’s bid to be hydrogen hub falls short

2023 SEPTEMBER 14 mark Glick

Hawaii won’t be a clean-­hydrogen production and distribution hub under a $7 billion federal initiative.

Federal officials announced Friday that seven hydrogen hub plans across the country were selected for the funding, and a bid from Hawaii didn’t make the cut.


The local bid was led by the Hawaii State Energy Office in partnership with about 40 companies and other government entities.

Mark Glick, the state’s chief energy officer, was disappointed about Hawaii’s plan not being picked but said the effort was exemplary and beneficial.

“Hawaii gained considerable knowledge that could accelerate the development of (hydrogen) in Hawaii in support of our quest for greater energy security, resilience and jobs in the clean energy sector,” he said in a statement. “HSEO and our partners now have a better understanding of the role that hydrogen can potentially play regarding critical energy services for resilience hubs and heavy-duty trucks and buses that can also contribute towards achieving our carbon-­negative goals.”

James Kunane Tokioka, director of the state Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said he is proud of the work done by the Hawaii-Pacific H2 Hub consortium.

“From the concept paper to the full application, we gained invaluable experience through this process,” he said in a statement. “At DBEDT, we look forward to working with the Hawaii State Energy Office and our partners on continuing to identify opportunities for clean energy investments, good paying jobs, and improved energy security.”

The Hawaii consortium proposed to create hydrogen, possibly using geothermal and solar energy, to make fuel to power heavy-duty ground transportation vehicles, ships, planes and the electrical grid as well as for fertilizer and export.

The U.S. Department of Energy announced in September 2022 that it was making available up to $7 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as an incentive for the private sector to establish six to 10 hubs producing clean hydrogen as a foundation for a national hydrogen energy network. Winning projects were expected to contribute matching investments.

Hawaii’s Energy Office and partners submitted a 20-page concept paper by early November, facing 78 other contenders, and later became one of 33 bidders encouraged to submit detailed applications.

Participating partners included Hawaiian Electric, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, Puna Geothermal Venture, Hawaii Gas, the state Department of Transportation, the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii, the National Renewable Energy Lab, Swiss-based energy firm Hitachi Zosen Inova and New York-based hydrogen development firm Enso Infrastructure.

Criteria for awards included growth potential, market competitiveness, job creation and speed for starting operations, among other things.

Projects in Appalachia, California, the Gulf Coast, the Heartland, the Mid-Atlantic, the Midwest, and the Pacific Northwest were selected for awards.

The seven projects combined are expected to spur more than $40 billion in private investment and create about 112,000 permanent jobs.

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