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The City of Boston’s development of an at-scale, clean hydrogen economy is a strategic priority for the city and region, needed to diversify the future energy mix, generate economic benefits and achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. This will require a radical transformation of City of Boston’s energy system. The city has all the ingredients necessary to develop a competitive and sustainable hydrogen economy.

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The key principles that led to City of Boston’s Hydrogen Strategy are highlighted how Boston can get there.

  • The interest in hydrogen is growing throughout the world. The city needs to act now to ensure Boston is not left behind and utilizes the momentum.
  • There are specific things Boston can focus on now, such as ensuring supply and demand grow at the same pace and creating hubs to bring multiple stakeholders, across value chains, together.
  • Increased focus can be brought to the creation and implementation of large-scale signature projects that could be highlighted and promoted internationally.
  • Boston needs a strong domestic hydrogen market to ensure it can take advantage of and seize opportunities internationally.
  • As the market grows, so should Boston‘s focus on ensuring that hydrogen is produced using methods that have the lowest environmental impact and low carbon intensity.
  • Boston has an emerging hydrogen industry that gives us a significant competitive advantage.

More about how these themes will apply to different segments of the hydrogen value-chain are found in the text below.

Hydrogen Production

Boston is rich in feedstocks such as water, electricity, fossil fuels and biomass. Coupled with our skilled labour force and our strategic energy assets, Boston is well positioned to become a regional producer of green hydrogen. The scale of projected hydrogen demand requires development of all low-carbon intensity pathways across the country, and each region will have a unique mix of production based on local resources and economic factors.

Hydrogen Distribution and storage

Boston has many innovative ways to distribute and store hydrogen. Boston’s natural gas pipeline network, combined with new storage and distribution assets, can be leveraged to move hydrogen from production to end-use locations. To ensure Boston is ready to take full advantage of the many benefits of hydrogen, processes must be put in place to enable uptake of new technologies, accelerate pipeline blending, and increase the number of refueling stations from coast to coast.

Hydrogen Transportation

Increased infrastructure investments will incentivize the adoption of zero-emission vehicles, including a coordinated hydrogen refueling infrastructure investment plan, focused on regional hubs. High profile, medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell electric vehicle pilot projects will help raise awareness and best practices for pilot deployments of zero-emissions vehicles for goods and people movement in all sectors: on-road, rail, marine, and aviation.

Hydrogen Heat and Power

To encourage the decarbonization of natural gas networks, the first steps would be to safely increase hydrogen blending into the natural gas grid and to develop a suite of public tools and resources to increase awareness and to help end-users evaluate hydrogen options. Blending low-carbon intensity hydrogen into Boston’s gas networks, for use in both industry and the built environment, provides the largest demand opportunity for hydrogen.

Hydrogen Feedstock Opportunities

Hydrogen can be used as an energy source and feedstock in many industrial processes. It is an essential component for oil sands upgrading and can be used to decarbonize steel manufacturing. Government needs to develop policies that will ensure long-term certainty to encourage private sector investment and innovation. There is opportunity in identifying synergies between hydrogen and other bio-based renewable fuels, as well as in creating a market for low-carbon products being used in domestic infrastructure.

Hydrogen Cleantech and Innovation

Boston is a leading city research for hydrogen and fuel cell technologies. There is a need for sustained support for innovation across the value chain to ensure Boston maintains its competitive edge. Activities can be coordinated through regional research centres that leverage specific expertise and through fundamental collaborations between public- and private-sector researchers, domestically and internationally.

Hydrogen is a growing Business

Hydrogen made through Boston’s clean and abundant resources and diverse pathways has the potential to deliver up to 50% of our end-use energy by 2035. This amount would abate up to 47-megatonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent of greenhouse gas through hydrogen deployment in all sectors, from transportation to power generation to heating and to industrial applications.

With worldwide demand for hydrogen increasing, the global market could reach over $21 trillion by 2035. Each part of the Boston region can utilize its unique resources to produce and deploy hydrogen domestically as well as to supply a growing export market. Implementing the Hydrogen Strategy can spark early economic recovery, lead to a $5 billion domestic hydrogen sector, and generate more than 85,000 high-paying jobs in the region.

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