LA and Long Beach ports join California’s bid to become federal hydrogen hub.

LA and Long Beach ports join California’s bid to become federal hydrogen hub.

March 22, 2023 1 By Angie Bergenson

California hopes to become one of four national hubs to test hydrogen fuel technologies.

The state of California is applying for a federal grant to achieve this goal and the ports of LA and Long Beach want to join the statewide clean hydrogen hub bid, which would give the ports over half a billion dollars in federal funding to test the advantages of using the clean fuel to power terminal and trucking equipment.

This proposal is the most recent effort of these twin seaports to expand their zero-emissions technology options.

hydrogen news ebookIf the California bid is successful, the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach will benefit from hundreds of millions of dollars supplied by federal grants that have been made available due to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the bipartisan infrastructure law), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden back in November 2021. This act directed the US Department of Energy (DOE) to provide $10 billion to develop 4 clean hydrogen hubs across the country.

Though the ports’ proposal is only a small portion of California’s statewide submission, should California win one of the four grants and become a federal hydrogen hub, the ports would operate with a budget of $600 million, with a 50% match required jointly from each.

In regard to the bid, Gene Seroka, the executive director for the Port of Los Angeles, recently said, “We hope to be one of the four.” Seroka added that while they’re “pretty big players” they need to be prepared to write their own checks.”

Also commenting on the importance of being a part of the state application, Port of Long Beach’s managing director of planning and environmental affairs, Heather Tomley, stated that “The Port of Long Beach sees hydrogen fuel cell technologies as having an important role in our transition to zero-emissions operations.”

The ports hope the hydrogen hub will help them reach the zero-emissions goals they’ve set.

By 2030, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach plan to operate entirely zero-emissions terminal equipment and, by 2035, a 100% zero-emissions truck fleet. To help reach this objective, both ports have made efforts to acquire battery-operated equipment. However, this tech has its own challenges.

Hydrogen hub - port in California

Compared to diesel vehicles, battery-operated vehicles are heavier, have shorter drive ranges, and require expensive charging infrastructure to support their use. While battery-operated vehicles could suffice for short distances, it’s hydrogen technology that has the most potential to be optimal for long-haul freight transportation as it offers similar operation, refueling time, vehicle weight and drive range as diesel, but with the added benefit of supporting decarbonization efforts.

The purpose of the hydrogen hub projects is to showcase a complete hydrogen supply chain, including hydrogen production, storage and distribution as a sustainable way forward to decarbonize various sectors.

As for the ports specifically, this could include fueling stations, on-road trucks, yard tractors, tug boats and top handler equipment. More specifically, if awarded, the first stage would deploy H2 equipment, including a fueling station and yard equipment. This would then be scaled up in Stage 2 of the project with the roll out of heavy-duty H2 trucks, for example.

California’s application is due April 7, with the award-planning phase to follow within 12 to 18 months of the application deadline.

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