A group of energy companies have formed a new alliance with the goal of decarbonising the Northern Appalachian region of the US.
EQT, Equinor, GE Gas Power, Marathon Petroleum, Mitsubishi Power, Shell Polymers and US Steel plan to work with stakeholders to develop a low-carbon and hydrogen industrial hub in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
The companies hope the hub can be used as a national model for sustainable energy and production systems and generate thousands of new jobs.
“We look forward to working with other industry leaders to support the development of one or multiple low carbon energy hubs in North Appalachia,” said Rob Wingo, executive vice president at EQT. The company’s operations are focused on the Marcellus and Utica shales in the region.
“Our region has an abundant source of low-cost, low emissions-intensive natural gas which can be converted to low-carbon fuels and used to reduce our country’s carbon footprint.”
Appalachia contains large assets in natural gas — accounting for 34% of dry natural gas production in the US in the first half of 2021— and national laboratories that can support manufacturing, materials, and energy in the region.
The hub uses public-private partnerships across sectors to focus on carbon capture, utilisation, and storage, along with hydrogen production and use.
The companies seek to develop a network to engage industry, labour, universities, communities, government, research institutions, non-profit organisations, and other groups.
“With an abundance of natural resources, industrial capabilities, and a highly-skilled workforce, the Appalachian region is poised to meet America’s energy needs while leading the transition to a low-carbon future,” said Equinor US country manager Chris Golden.
Equinor and US Steel had previously signed a memorandum of understanding to explore hydrogen and CCS in the region, specifically focusing on blue hydrogen.
Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas feedstocks, with the carbon dioxide by-product from hydrogen production captured and stored. However, the process is not emissions free.
Green hydrogen is made using electrolysis powered by renewable energy to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen, creating an emissions-free fuel.
The alliance does not specify which type of hydrogen production it will pursue, but given the natural gas resources in the region, blue hydrogen would have the potential to be scaled up relatively quickly.
Other companies in the alliance, including Mitsubishi Power, have experience with green hydrogen as an energy storage option.
The non-profit IN-2-Market, which manages collaborative networks to accelerate innovation in the region, will coordinate the alliance’s activities and its engagement with regional stakeholders.