In mid-October, the US government and the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the allocation of $7 billion to support the development of 7 regional hubs dedicated to the production, distribution and storage of clean hydrogen. The funding, part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of November 2021, is part of a roadmap that should see the US produce 40 million tons of clean hydrogen by 2050. As a complementary technology to electrification, clean hydrogen offers solid growth prospects in the medium to long term, particularly in the decarbonisation of industry and heavy transport.
THE UNITED STATES IS STEPPING UP THE DRIVE FOR CLEAN HYDROGEN AS A LEVER FOR DECARBONIZATION
The ambition to make the United States the world leader in clean hydrogen (produced from renewable energies, nuclear power or natural gas with CO2 capture and storage) has its origins in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of November 2021 (IIJA) and the creation of a dedicated body (Office of Clean Energy Demonstration, OCED) attached to the US Department of Energy (DOE). With a funding envelope of $25 billion, OCED focuses on emerging green technologies related to energy production and storage. OCED has drawn up a roadmap for the development of clean hydrogen based on three priorities: targeting strategic uses with a high impact on decarbonisation (industry, heavy-duty transportation, energy storage), reducing the price of clean hydrogen through innovation and economies of scale, and focusing on regional infrastructure networks to help the market take off.
In December 2021, OCED launched a call for projects for the creation of regional hubs for the production of clean hydrogen, with a budget of $7 billion intended to finance up to 50% of the total cost of the projects. No fewer than 79 projects were submitted, of which around twenty submitted full applications on 7 April 2023. On 13 October 2023, the DOE announced that it had selected 7 regional hub projects eligible for financial support from the federal government, which are also expected to attract around $40 billion in private investment.
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in August 2022 provides for tax credits of up to $3 per kilogram produced, compared with the current cost of between $4 and $5. Combined with financial support for the development of regional hubs ($7 billion spread across 7 projects), this should turn the economic equation very much in favour of clean hydrogen in the United States.
OUR EXPOSURE TO AMERICAN CLEAN HYDROGEN
We are currently invested in 3 companies involved in the development of regional clean hydrogen hubs in the United States:
• Air Liquide: A French group and the world’s second largest player in the industrial gases sector, Air Liquide is a partner in 6 of the 7 regional hub
projects (ARCH 2, ARCHES, HyV, MACH2, MachH2, PNW H2) and will contribute its expertise across the entire hydrogen value chain (production, liquefaction, distribution, storage);
• Linde: The German-American group, world leader in industrial gases, partner in 1 of the 7 hubs (ARCHES), also active along the entire value chain;
• Plug Power, an American company specialising in green hydrogen, a partner in 4 of the 7 hubs projects, with a particular focus on the production of electrolysers.