Biden Administration Targets Chemical Industry in Clean Hydrogen Plan

June 5, 2023
Roadmap calls on chemical producers to ramp up production and use of low- or zero-carbon hydrogen

Existing chemical operations will play a key role in the Biden administration’s goal to produce and consume 50 million metric tons (MMT) of clean hydrogen by 2050. President Biden announced the target on June 5 in his plan to scale domestic production and use of clean hydrogen.

The framework, called the U.S. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap, outlines how the administration plans to produce hydrogen with low or zero carbon emissions.   

“Initial large-scale deployments of clean hydrogen are expected to target industries with established supply chains and economies of scale, such as ammonia production and the petrochemical industry,” the administration noted in its roadmap.

By 2030, the administration has set a target of 10 MMT of clean hydrogen and 20 MMT annually by 2040. The administration has identified three key strategies for developing clean hydrogen, including:

  • Targeting strategic, high-impact uses for clean hydrogen, which will ensure that clean hydrogen will be utilized in the highest benefit applications, where limited alternatives exist (such as the industrial sector, heavy-duty transportation and long-duration energy storage to enable a clean grid)
  • Reducing the cost of clean hydrogen by catalyzing innovation and scale, stimulating private sector investments and developing the clean-hydrogen supply chain
  • Focusing on regional networks with large-scale clean hydrogen production and end-use in close proximity, enabling maximum benefit from infrastructure investment, driving scale and facilitating market liftoff while leveraging place-based opportunities for equity, inclusion and environmental justice 

The document noted that hydrogen is already an essential feedstock for methanol and ammonia production. The administration also noted in the 97-page roadmap that the shift to clean hydrogen in the chemical industry may occur at existing industrial clusters with collocated hydrogen production facilities. Currently, 88% of ammonia consumption in the United States is for fertilizer production, while 12% is used to produce plastics, explosives, synthetic fibers, resins and other chemicals, according to the document.

Future applications for ammonia may include uses as fuel for offroad vehicles or in power generation. Hydrogen demand in the methanol market depends on growth for chemicals production, rates of plastics recycling and the development of new end uses of methanol, such as its use as a fuel or as a hydrogen carrier, the administration noted in its roadmap.

The administration noted that clean hydrogen will play a vital role in reducing emissions from energy-intensive industries, including industrial and chemical processes and heavy-duty transportation.

“Accelerating the deployment of hydrogen is key to achieving President Biden’s vision for an affordable, secure clean energy future,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer  Granholm. “That’s why DOE worked alongside our federal partners to develop the U.S. National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap that will lay the foundation for a strong and productive partnership between the public and private sectors and will guide government and industry to realize the full potential of this incredibly versatile energy resource.” 

About the Author

Jonathan Katz | Executive Editor

Jonathan Katz, executive editor, brings nearly two decades of experience as a B2B journalist to Chemical Processing magazine. He has expertise on a wide range of industrial topics. Jon previously served as the managing editor for IndustryWeek magazine and, most recently, as a freelance writer specializing in content marketing for the manufacturing sector.

His knowledge areas include industrial safety, environmental compliance/sustainability, lean manufacturing/continuous improvement, Industry 4.0/automation and many other topics of interest to the Chemical Processing audience.

When he’s not working, Jon enjoys fishing, hiking and music, including a small but growing vinyl collection.

Jon resides in the Cleveland, Ohio, area.