In December 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) responded to Concept Papers submitted for the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (H2Hubs) program. Funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the H2Hubs will be a central driver in helping communities across the country benefit from clean energy investments, good-paying jobs, and improved energy security—all while supporting President Biden’s goal of a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.
In September 2022, DOE opened a $7 billion funding opportunity to create clean hydrogen hubs across the country and form a critical arm of America’s future clean energy economy. For the first stage of this process, OCED required Concept Paper submittals and received 79 submissions. In these Concept Papers, applicants requested nearly $60 billion in federal funding—roughly eight to nine times the size of DOE’s $6-7 billion solicitation. Proposed projects by the applicants included in aggregate, more than $150 billion of their own capital alongside the DOE’s federal investment. The response to the Concept Papers was tremendous and covered all technological solutions as well as every region of the country.
OCED notified those who submitted Concept Papers that they were either encouraged or discouraged from submitting a Full Application. This followed an assessment of each Concept Paper based on evaluation criteria that included qualifications, experience, and capabilities; expected contributions toward a national hydrogen network; plans to develop production, end-use, and connective facilities; and the community benefits plan component. This process allows DOE to provide feedback to potential applicants to ensure they are producing the best applications possible and to better understand the types of final applications it will receive.
While OCED provided written feedback to the Concept Papers, OCED held a webinar on January 12, 2023 for registrants to hear directly from the office. DOE takes seriously the confidentiality of all applicants and will treat applications and related information as confidential to the fullest extent possible, provided that applicants have not opted to publicly release the information. However, applicants who submitted Concept Papers are free to publicize their Concept Papers and/or DOE’s response. These encourage/discourage notifications do not preclude any entity that submitted a Concept Paper from submitting a Full Application, nor does it preclude further coordination among potential applicants. The final application deadline is April 7, 2023, and DOE looks forward to receiving Full Applications and selecting awardees during the fall of 2023.
For more information regarding the H2Hubs program, please visit OCED’s H2Hubs webpage as well as related FAQ’s below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How many Concept Papers were submitted?
A. The Department of Energy (DOE) received 79 Concept Papers.
Q. Why did DOE require Concept Papers to be submitted?
A. Concept Papers allow DOE to provide feedback to potential applicants to ensure they can produce the best applications possible and to better understand and prepare for the types of Full Applications DOE might receive. The encourage or discourage notifications also serve to caution applicants from expending considerable resources to develop a Full Application on a concept that is unlikely to meet the goals of the hydrogen hubs (H2Hubs) program.
Q. How did DOE determine which Concept Papers to encourage and discourage and what were these determinations based on?
A. Multiple reviewers independently scored each Concept Paper based on evaluation criteria listed in the Funding Opportunity Announcement that included qualifications, experience, and capabilities; expected contributions toward a national hydrogen network; plans to develop production, end-use, and connective facilities; and the community benefits plan component. A DOE panel then reviewed scores and made final decisions on which papers to encourage and discourage, resulting in 33 encouraged and 46 discouraged.
The encouraged Concept Papers plan to develop all elements critical to a H2Hub: comprising production, end-uses, and connective infrastructure; demonstrating capabilities to execute a project plan or to attract and hire such capabilities; planning to deploy proven technologies; and indicating commitments to clean hydrogen and meaningful community benefits.
The 46 Concept Papers were discouraged for many reasons, but one of the most common reasons was papers that described concepts focused on only one element of the hub. Concept Papers were also discouraged that would depend on technologies unready for commercial scale demonstrations and projects whose elements were not readily suited to help catalyze a national clean hydrogen network.
Q. Will DOE publish or share the Concept Papers and/or encourage/discourage notifications?
A. DOE takes seriously the confidentiality of all applicants and will treat applications and related information as confidential to the fullest extent possible, provided that applicants have not opted to publicly release the information. However, applicants who submitted Concept Papers are free to publicize their H2Hub Concept Papers and/or DOE’s response. To receive future news alerts from the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED), including any updates on the H2Hubs Funding Opportunity Announcement, such as project selections, sign up here.
Q. Can applicants share their Concept Papers and DOE’s response?
A. Yes, applicants may share their Concept Papers and DOE’s response.
Q. If DOE discourages a Concept Paper, can the entity/project still submit a Full Application?
A. Yes, an encourage/discourage notification does not preclude any entity that submitted a Concept Paper from submitting a Full Application, nor does it preclude further coordination among potential applicants.
Q. Does an encourage notification mean that the entity/H2Hub will be selected if they submit a Full Application?
A. No, an encourage notification simply means that the proposal is on the right path towards submitting a Full Application. DOE expects significant competition amongst applicants, even if only encouraged applicants proceed.
Q. Does a discourage notification mean that the entity/H2Hub will not be awarded if they submit a Full Application?
A. No, a discourage notification means that DOE deemed that the applicant’s prospect for success may not justify the resources required to complete a thorough and responsive Full Application.
Q. Will DOE provide more information to Concept Paper submitters prior to the Full Application deadline on April 7, 2023?
A. Yes, DOE held a webinar for interested parties and those who submitted Concept Papers to provide common themes and points of information to inform Full Applications. The webinar occurred on January 12, 2023; details on the webinar are available on this webpage.
Q. What areas/regions submitted Concept Papers? Of these, which were encouraged?
A. DOE received Concept Papers from all regions of the country. Encouraged Concept Papers propose H2Hubs in most regions of the country.
Q. Can applicants who submitted Concept Papers in the same region combine projects for the final application?
A. Parties of multiple Concept Papers may later merge into one Full Application. If a party is part of multiple Full Applications, the applications should explain how the entity or facility will support each H2Hub.
Q. Can more than one applicant in a region be selected to received funding?
A. Yes, however, the statute requires that “to the maximum extent practicable, each regional clean hydrogen hub…shall be located in a different region of the United States.” Applicants are encouraged to communicate and coordinate with each other, and even partner where appropriate, particularly where multiple H2Hubs have been proposed in the same region.
Q. Are end users eligible for funding in the H2Hubs?
A. Yes, end uses, such as transportation, residential and commercial heating, electric power generation, and industrial uses, are eligible for funding as part of a H2Hub. Please refer to the Funding Opportunity Announcement for specific exclusions.
Q. How much proposed investment was included by applicants in the Concept Papers?
A. Applicants proposed investments, in aggregate, of more than $150 billion of their own capital alongside the DOE’s federal investment.
Applicant Cost Share Proposed (approximately $157.1 billion)
Encouraged: $96 billion
Discouraged: $61.1 billion
Q. How much was the request for federal funds in the Concept Papers?
A. The request for federal funds was approximately $60 billion—roughly eight to nine times the size of DOE’s $6-7 billion solicitation—including approximately $33.5 billion from the 33 applicants who have been encouraged to submit Full Applications.
DOE Cost Share Requested (approximately $61.3 billion)
Encouraged: $33.5 billion
Discouraged: $27.8 billion
Q. How will H2Hubs work with communities?
A. The success of an H2Hub depends on engagement with and support from host communities, relevant labor partners and workforces, and other impacted groups. Applicants are required to include a Community Benefits Plan describing the steps applicants will take to engage with community and labor groups; invest in America’s workforce; advance Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility; and support the Justice40 Initiative; as well as the resources that are allocated to implementing the Community Benefits Plan. Additional information is available through our “Community Benefits Plan Guidance” under “APPLICATION FORMS AND TEMPLATES” in eXCHANGE. DOE will support successful applicants and host communities in ongoing community engagement as reflected in the Community Benefits Plans throughout the full project scope.
Q. How will DOE ensure that selected H2Hubs are producing clean hydrogen?
A. H2Hubs will be evaluated on the degree to which the proposed H2Hub reduces emissions of greenhouse gases and criteria pollutants across the full life cycle compared to current and conventional technologies and processes. H2Hubs also must demonstrably aid achievement of, but do not necessarily need to meet, the clean hydrogen production standard, which has its own statutory criteria and is currently under development. The clean hydrogen production standard target is not a regulatory requirement or barrier to H2Hubs funding.
Q. What is a H2Hub?
A. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law defines the term “regional clean hydrogen hub” as “a network of clean hydrogen producers, potential clean hydrogen consumers, and connective infrastructure located in close proximity.”
Q. Will the H2Hubs help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
A. Yes, H2Hubs are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions compared to current and conventional technologies and processes. DOE is requiring H2Hubs to conduct a detailed Life Cycle Analysis to determine the carbon intensity of all project elements over the lifetime of the H2Hub—including, for example, emissions intensities of supply chains and input materials. However, emissions associated with equipment manufacturing are not included in the system boundary.
We also know that different methods of hydrogen production and use can impact the extent of non-greenhouse gas emissions including NOx. DOE expects H2Hubs to employ state-of-the-art technologies to mitigate criteria air pollution emissions, and criteria air pollution emissions will also factor into the Life Cycle Analysis of the H2Hub.
Q. Is an H2Hub that can become operational sooner than another competitively favored?
A. Yes, all other factors being equal, and this is reflected in the evaluation criteria: the speed at which the H2Hub can achieve its proposed production rate and build out the related infrastructure to expand end use markets for clean hydrogen.
Q. Is an H2Hub that seeks less than 50% of the federal DOE cost share competitively favored over one which seeks the entire 50%?
A. Yes, all other factors being equal. It is included as one of 16 program policy factors that may help determine which Full Application to select: the degree to which the proposed project, including proposed cost share, optimizes the use of available DOE funding to achieve programmatic objectives.
Q. What is the application deadline for Full Applications?
A. Full Applications are due by April 7, 2023, 5 p.m., ET.