The development of hydrogen as a widespread energy source is still in its infancy, but opportunities to get in on the ground floor shouldn’t be ignored.
Cummins Inc. already has laid the foundation for a strong Indiana foray into using hydrogen as a fuel. The Columbus-based company has invested millions in hydrogen technology since 2019.
Now it has joined a Hoosier coalition that includes the Indiana Economic Development Corp. and others to try to land a portion of the $7 billion the U.S. Department of Energy is offering through its Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs, or H2Hubs, program.
The IEDC is smart to take a leading role in this effort. Not only will it open new economic opportunities for the state, but hydrogen also holds the promise of helping to decarbonize much of the U.S. economy and slow the effects of climate change.
Hydrogen, which releases no carbon when burned, could be the key to decarbonizing industries that are now dependent on fossil fuels, such as trucking and rail shipping, airways and more.
Around the world, new ventures in hydrogen power are coming to fruition. As CNN reported, Germany recently unveiled 14 hydrogen-powered passenger trains. Airbus has also announced plans to test hydrogen-powered planes in 2026.
Cummins also is a leader in hydrogen technology. Known for diesel engines that power heavy transport, it now also produces hydrogen fuel cells for vehicles and electrolyzers that produce hydrogen.
Cummins also has a joint venture with NPROXX, a Netherlands-based company that makes high-pressure hydrogen storage tanks.
As IBJ’s Susan Orr reported last week, the IEDC has enlisted Cummins, Purdue University, London-based BP plc and others to help Indiana land one of the six to 10 hydrogen hubs the federal government hopes to create.
The Energy Department plans to name the hubs next year, but the competition is expected to be stiff. At least 21 states are expected to compete.
Still, state and corporate officials are bullish on Indiana’s chances. They say the industrial corridor in northwestern Indiana—with its steel mills, shipping industry and BP refinery at Whiting—is the perfect place to build momentum for hydrogen power in industries dominated by fossil fuel.
The area also includes natural underground caverns that could be ideal to capture carbon dioxide and reduce emissions.
Only time will tell if Indiana is successful in making its case. But we applaud the aggressiveness of the IEDC and the state’s industries to pursue this once-in-a-generation opportunity to become the center of a potential source of new, clean power.
The state’s hydrogen initiative, combined with its efforts to land federal funding for a regional tech hub and the development of computer-chip manufacturers, holds the promise of creating high-paying jobs for Hoosiers and putting the state on a bright economic path.•
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