The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced up to $64m in funding to encourage the expansion of the country's green-hydrogen (H2) market.

While 95% of the ten million metric tons of hydrogen currently being produced in the US come from the reforming of natural gas, the DOE's Fuel Cell Technology Office dedicates the main part of its H2@Scale funding — $15m — towards “lowering the cost of hydrogen produced from megawatt- and gigawatt-scale electrolysers by improving large-scale, high-volume electrolyser manufacturing in the US”.

Electrolysers use electricity to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. When renewable electricity is used, the H2 is said to be 100% emissions-free, and known as “green hydrogen”.

Currently, green hydrogen is up to five times more expensive than so-called “grey hydrogen” produced from natural gas, which emits nine to 12 tonnes of CO2 for every tonne of H2. As hydrogen can be used for energy storage, heating, transport and in heavy industry, it is increasingly being seen as key to the energy transition, with the production of green H2 expected to grow rapidly during the 2020s and potentially becoming cost-competitive with grey hydrogen by the end of the decade.

Up to $15m will also be spent on reducing the cost of compressed gas and hydrogen storage tanks through advancement in carbon-fibre technology, while up to $10m are earmarked for advancing the development of domestically manufactured fuel cells.

The remainder of the funding is to develop the use of hydrogen in steel manufacturing, developing demonstration hydrogen projects in the maritime and data-centre sectors, and workforce training.

Less than a month ago, the DOE also unveiled its Energy Storage Grand Challenge, which it described as “a comprehensive program to accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage technologies and sustain American global leadership in energy storage”.