The US is aiming to cut the cost of clean hydrogen production by 80% this decade – an “ambitious yet achievable” target officials say will accelerate innovation and spur new demand for the fuel.

In the first of a series of so-called “Earthshot” technology initiatives to be launched by the US Department of Energy (DoE), the “Hydrogen Shot” scheme seeks to lower the cost of production to $1 per kilogramme by 2030, compared to current cost estimates of around $5 per kilogramme.

“The Energy Earthshots are an all-hands-on-deck call for innovation, collaboration and acceleration of our clean energy economy by tackling the toughest remaining barriers to quickly deploy emerging clean energy technologies at scale,” said US energy secretary Jennifer Granholm.

Hydrogen has been widely-tipped as a significant piece of the net-zero jigsaw, offering a cleaner alternative to fossil-based energy carriers like gas, oil and other petroleum products that can be applied to transport, heating and heavy industry.

But the sector remains in its infancy, and will need to undergo rapid development if it is to reach the scale and technological maturity needed to lower costs and attract the investment needed to solve infrastructure challenges like distribution and storage.


Overcoming production cost challenges key to unlocking ‘game-changer’ clean hydrogen

“There are still many hurdles to deploying [clean hydrogen] at scale,” the DoE said in a statement, but achieving these cost reduction goals could unlock a five-fold increase in demand for the fuel produced via renewable, nuclear and thermal pathways.

“Clean hydrogen is a game-changer,” added Granholm. “It will help decarbonise high-polluting heavy-duty and industrial sectors, while delivering good-paying clean energy jobs and realising a net-zero economy by 2050.”

While hydrogen can be produced in a number of ways, “clean” versions of the fuel need to be made by either using renewable electricity to split water into its constituent elements or by deploying carbon capture technologies to mitigate emissions associated with natural gas processing techniques.

In a major infrastructure package President Biden is attempting to push through Congress, significant funding has been allocated to developing decarbonised hydrogen – as well as other nascent clean energy technologies – via a series of demonstration projects.

Alongside today’s launch, the DoE has issued a request for information on specific and viable demonstrations as it looks to advance the Earthshot scheme, with submissions due by 7 July.

A similar, UN-backed initiative to slash the cost of clean hydrogen production has been launched by a consortium of energy firms, who hope to bring the cost of green hydrogen – produced using renewables – to below $2 per kilogramme by 2026, as well as developing 25 gigawatts (GW) of production capacity.