CHARLESTON — West Virginia is on the offensive in trying to snag a new energy producing facility that uses hydrogen.

U.S. Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va. and Gov. Jim Justice announced on Tuesday the launch of the WV Hydrogen Hub Working Group “to collaborate and support a strong West Virginia candidate to be chosen to develop a hydrogen hub.”

The facility, which would be one of several regional hubs around the country, would be financed through $9.5 billion allocated the U.S. Dept. of Energy by the infrastructure bill.

According to the announcement, the hydrogen hub would be a “major energy producing facility tied in with end-use partners to create good-paying, long-term jobs and lead in the advancement of this critical technology. In the coming weeks and months, the group will add partners and host an initial organizational meeting.”

Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms. The hydrogen reacts with oxygen across an electrochemical cell similar to that of a battery to produce electricity, water, and small amounts of heat.

Manchin has been a proponent of using hydrogen as a clean energy source as the technology advances.

“I am proud to be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and across the state to collaborate on this incredible opportunity to showcase how West Virginia can continue to lead the country – and the world – in advancing energy technologies and bring good-paying jobs to the state.” he said. “With our abundant energy sources and strong partnerships, our state is uniquely situated to compete for DOE funding to develop a hydrogen hub, as provided through my bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.”

Manchin said the working group is the first step in competing and being selected to become a hydrogen hub, and “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to sell all that our great state has to offer to the rest of the nation.”

“A key part of our bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is supporting new, innovative energy technologies that drive job creation in West Virginia and throughout the country,” Capito said. “By forming the Hydrogen Hub Working Group, we are bringing together experts and leaders from across the state to showcase why West Virginia is an ideal place to make increased investments in the development of hydrogen energy. I’m confident in our state’s capacity to house a hydrogen hub, and look forward to the progress our working group will make in helping this become a reality.”

Justice wants the state to continue to be an energy “powerhouse.”

“West Virginia has forever been known as one of the world’s leading energy powerhouses, and we want to do everything in our power to make sure we continue to be just that for centuries to come,”he said. “That’s why I’m proud to join our congressional delegation to prove that West Virginia is the perfect landing spot for this all-important hydrogen hub. For generations, hardworking West Virginians have poured everything they have into keeping the lights on across America, and, if given the opportunity, they will continue to shine bright with this new technology too…”

The recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act included $8 billion for Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs that will create jobs to expand use of clean hydrogen in the industrial sector and beyond; $1 billion for a Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program to reduce costs of hydrogen produced from clean electricity; and $500 million for Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing and Recycling Initiatives to support equipment manufacturing and strong domestic supply chains.

The legislation also requires one hub be located in Appalachia.

The DOE also announced Tuesday two Requests for Information (RFI) to “collect feedback from stakeholders to inform the implementation and design of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Regional Hydrogen Hub and the Electrolysis and Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing and Recycling Programs.”

The RFIs is the first step in the clean hydrogen hub selection process.

According to the DOE, the RFIs will gather input from a “diverse range of stakeholders, including regional leaders, local groups, environmental justice community members, researchers, technology developers, businesses among others to inform the design of clean hydrogen programs. This feedback will also inform the effective, just, and sustainable deployment of technologies that will enable a safe climate future, with particular attention to including historically marginalized communities in the decision-making process.”

In July 2021, the DOE announced the Hydrogen Energy Earthshot initiative, setting aside $52.5 million to fund 31 projects, including work at West Virginia University, to “focus on bridging technical gaps in hydrogen production, storage, distribution and utilization technologies, including fuel cells, thereby paving the way toward decarbonization of the electricity sector by 2035 and creation of good-paying jobs across in the hydrogen sector.”

Both Manchin and Capito issued statements at the time about that announcement.

“West Virginia University continues to utilize our state’s vast natural gas resources to tackle some of the toughest challenges in industrial research, including by developing clean, innovative ways to produce hydrogen – a fuel that’s increasingly important to our economy and has potential to decarbonize our energy systems, industrial processes, and the transportation sector,” Manchin said at that time.

“It’s critical we support an all-of-the-above approach and invest in a variety of technologies, including hydrogen,” Capito said. “West Virginia University’s top-notch facilities, students and faculty, and research capacity make it a perfect place to make the most of this investment to develop and accelerate breakthroughs in clean energy.”