Houston named one of 7 hydrogen hubs in the nation, Pres. Joe Biden says

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Saturday, October 14, 2023
'Hydrogen hub' plan: Biden Administration includes Houston to receive $7 billion in federal funding alongside 6 cities
Federal leaders say the hubs will bring jobs to the area, and transform energy use across the country. More importantly, Houston is known as the "Energy Capital of the World."

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The energy capital of the world could soon become even more important with more than a billion dollars being invested in a new hydrogen hub.

More than 50 years after landing on the moon, President Joe Biden stood in a facility in Philadelphia to announce an investment he hopes brings the next big innovation.

"We're the United States of America," Biden said. "There's nothing beyond our capacity."

A group from the Houston area watched in Philly, excitedly knowing what was heading their way.

"It's pretty exciting being here and pretty inspirational whether you're a Democrat or a Republican," the Rashid Engineering Regents Chair professor in the McKetta Department of Chemical Engineering and the director of the UT Energy Institute, Brian Korgel said.

Korgel is part of the group leading a new hydrogen hub that will be heading to Houston. $7 billion are going to seven of them around the country.

Houston will get the most money, with $1.2 billion.

"It's pretty exciting because there are so many different uses of hydrogen if we can make enough of it, do it with low emissions and cost-effectively," Korgel explained.

Hydrogen is a clean energy source. When it burns, no carbon dioxide goes into the air.

The problem is right now, it's too expensive to make. Experts say the money will create new technology and bring down costs.

An energy source that could one day power a home, vehicle, and workplace.

"It's injected new money to make people really interested in doing new things," Korgel said.

David Crane, the Department of Energy undersecretary for infrastructure, said by using hydrogen instead of traditional fossil fuels, it'll make a major impact on the environment.

"Basically, it helps achieve the Biden Administration goal of zero carbon economy by 2050 without disrupting the lifestyles we all want to lead," Crane explained.

Houston is no stranger to energy. Oil and gas is one of the leading sectors in the region. The infrastructure is a reason why federal leaders said Houston was so appealing.

"Houston is the energy capital of the world and with this announcement I think this is a surest sign that Houston will continue to be the Energy Capital of the World well into the 21st century," Crane explained.

In a statement to ABC13, Gov. Greg Abbott said he believes the tools in Texas are what made the region a hub selection an ideal fit.

"This historic investment will further cement Texas' position as the national leader in energy and hydrogen production," Greg Abbott said. "I thank all the organizations that worked hard to bring this HyVelocity Hub and major investment to Texas. This regional hub will leverage our state's energy infrastructure to meet the growing need for reliable and affordable hydrogen in the United States and boost economic opportunities for businesses and workers in our state. There is no better place to produce American energy than in Texas."

According to the recent state jobs report, nearly 70,000 work in logging and mining locally, which includes oil and gas. It's the second fastest sector in the Gulf Coast over the past year.

But it hasn't rebounded from the pandemic. It's still short by about 8,500 jobs. The hub is expected to add 10,000 permanent positions and create 35,000 construction jobs.

Opportunities that experts say shouldn't take away from those who work in oil and gas.

"I think it's a little different if you talk about solar or wind. It's so different maybe from oil and gas," Korgel explained. "People get nervous about that sort of thing, but for hydrogen, the reality is very different."

If you're wondering where the hub will be built, officials say there's no one location.

"One of the misconceptions is one fenced industrial facilities, but it's not the case in Houston or elsewhere," Crane said. "It goes close to Corpus Christi and goes to Port Arthur."

To give you an idea of how big a role the Gulf Coast will play, there will be seven hubs. However, Houston will produce about a quarter of all new hydrogen.

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