The U.S. Federal Government and the Hydrogen Economy 2021 – Energy and Natural Resources

As discussed in Holland & Knight’s Making a Hydrogen Economy blog series, hydrogen has a huge opportunity to play a key role in global decarbonization efforts in dozens of industries and applications. However, to realize the full potential of hydrogen and ensure that green hydrogen is able to play a critical role in decarbonization, government partnerships, collaboration and an attractive regulatory landscape will be essential. This blog provides a high-level overview of the U.S. Federal Government programs available to support the development and deployment of hydrogen applications. Holland & Knight’s Energy team have extensive experience with these and other similar programs and stand ready to help interested parties navigate the process to benefit.

US Department of Energy (DOE)

Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office

The Office of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies (HFTO) is DOE’s premier applied research and development (R&D) program. The office most traditionally provides funding in the form of competitive grants to conduct R&D activities in hydrogen production, delivery, infrastructure, storage, fuel cells and multiple end uses in transportation applications, industrial and stationary electrics. Under the leadership of Sunita Satyapal, Director of HFTO, the program also provides support for technology validation, manufacturing, analysis, systems development and integration, security, codes and standards, education and workforce development. The consolidated appropriation act for fiscal 2021 provided HFTO with $ 150 million.

The biggest area of ​​interest for HFTO today is the H2 @ Scale initiative which focuses on bringing stakeholders together to advance the production, transport, storage and use of hydrogen at affordable prices. in order to increase income opportunities in several energy sectors.1 Thanks to H2 @ Scale, the DOE finances projects and national activities co-financed between laboratories and industry to accelerate research, development and demonstration of technologies applicable to hydrogen. A consortium of stakeholders met via H2 @ Scale to support and facilitate industry progress through seven R&D pillars:

  • Network simulation and test R&D
  • Development and use of R&D co-products
  • Techno-economic modeling and analysis
  • R&D on the compatibility of hydrogen materials
  • R&D security (cross-functional)
  • Performance verification to guide R&D
  • Materials and components manufacturing R&D

As the initiative matures, new priorities such as H2 @ Aviation are starting to emerge, which build on existing efforts that focus more specifically, such as medium and heavy vehicles. While some of these initiatives are in their infancy and many may view HFTO’s funding as minimal compared to the capital requirements to achieve a green hydrogen economy, it is important to note the role these programs have played. in the deployment and implementation of hydrogen to date. As a result, it is inevitable that the DOE HFTO will continue to be at the center of the US government’s efforts and the deployment of hydrogen.

Loan Programs Office

DOE loan programs represent the best and often the only way for innovative technologies and emerging and existing US manufacturers to cross the development barrier to deploy new and improved technologies in the United States and, ultimately, to export.

The Office of Loan Programs (LPO) currently administers two programs that can play a catalytic role in reviving the hydrogen economy. Currently, LPO is the only program within DOE that can provide funding for the commercial scale deployment of clean energy technologies. Specifically, there remains $ 4.5 billion of Innovative Loan Guarantee Authority for Innovative Clean Energy (Title XVII) under Title XVII to support the production and infrastructure of green and blue hydrogen through the open solicitation of renewable and energy efficient projects, and more than $ 10 billion for advanced technology vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program (ATVM) to support the manufacture of battery-powered vehicles and electrical components combustible.

The CLEAN Futures Act, which was recently reintroduced by the chairman of the home’s energy and commerce committee, Frank Pallone (DN.J.), deals with a long-sought extension of ATVM eligibility for include manufacturers of certain medium and heavy vehicles and component suppliers. By expanding ATVV eligibility, this would open up the program to manufacturers of medium and large capacity fuel cell electric vehicles. Additionally, it would reduce the burden on manufacturers in the supply chain for these newly eligible vehicles to demonstrate that they are also eligible for ATVM funding.

In addition, the CLEAN Futures Act builds on recent Title XVII reforms that were included in the 2020 Energy Act. The legislation also sets the crucial eligibility criteria for DOE loan programs – “reasonable prospect of repayment,“which many argue is the critical barrier preventing widespread use of the programs as clean energy markets have evolved and matured, and today new funding structures, contractual conditions and regulatory regimes are available but are not taken into consideration in a comprehensive and comprehensive manner. By defining
“reasonable prospect of repayment”, the DOE will have more precise guidance to assess the financial viability of projects, which will help support new markets such as hydrogen.

Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)

ARPA-E is DOE’s $ 430 million “high potential, high impact” R&D program that focuses on energy technologies too early for private sector investment. The agency’s approach, which differs from the rest of the department’s R&D portfolio, has resulted in the advancement of many game-changing technologies. A key element of ARPA-E’s mission, which is specifically requested in its statutory Congress mandate, is to prepare the technologies for eventual transfer from the laboratory to the market, and the specialized Tech-to-Market teams within the agency work with award winners to develop and implement marketing strategies.

In early March 2021, ARPA-E closed a request for information (RFI) which focused exclusively on the development of stationary hydrogen storage technology. In particular, the RFI sought to collect information from industry, universities and national laboratories on safe, inexpensive, flexible, transportable and widely deployable hydrogen storage technology for seasonal energy storage of very long lasting. Turnkey systems ready for integration with hydrogen fuel cell power generation, cogeneration (CHP), micro-grid and other distributed power generation systems were of most interest to ARPA- E in this specific RFI. It is common to see new announcements of funding opportunities as a result of inquiries. Therefore, it is likely that a new opportunity will emerge this year from ARPA-E with the aim of developing stationary hydrogen technologies and validating their reliability under varying conditions, manufacturability and a favorable economy at large. ladder.


Today, many programs and initiatives are already present across the federal government to support the large-scale deployment of hydrogen. The programs described above are the established initiatives and federal government programs available to help businesses in fiscal 2021. Other short-term initiatives will likely be unveiled as part of the government’s decarbonization initiatives. Biden. However, broader, long-term initiatives similar to those proposed by other countries are not immediately expected until the Biden administration and the US federal government pursue their plans to achieve full decarbonization. and net zero emissions by 2050. These initiatives are detailed and unveiled, Holland & Knight’s Energy team will provide additional details and analysis. In the meantime, businesses and interested parties are encouraged to revisit the programs outlined above and begin to collaborate with the federal government offices mentioned above, as these offices will continue to play a central role in delivering the above. ‘a hydrogen economy.


1 H2 @ Scale: Providing affordable, reliable, clean and safe energy in all sectors

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought on your particular situation.

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