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Inside Olympia — NW Hydrogen Hub and Clean Energy

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The federal government recently announced the Pacific Northwest is one of the national winners in the race for hydrogen hubs. The Northwest Hydrogen hub includes Washington, Oregon and Montana, and could spur up to 70,000 regional jobs, according to state and federal officials.

This week on Inside Olympia, host Austin Jenkins spends the full hour discussing hydrogen, clean energy, Washington’s economic competitiveness and more with Chris Green, who heads the Washington Department of Commerce Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, and chairs the Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Association.

Green gives an overview of the opportunities and challenges presented by clean energy and the tech economy. He talks about the many Washington companies already involved in advancing tech/clean energy in such areas as aerospace, electric aviation, quantum computing and agriculture.

Some takeaways from the interview:

Green says that these days the private market — people who have money to spend — are betting on development and sales of clean energy.

He says we need huge amounts of new renewable energy to come online, not only for hydrogen but for semiconductors, batteries, and more. He thinks the big bottleneck is transmission, how quickly we can bring our electrical transmission capacity up to par to meet new demand.

As far as hydrogen, Green says it is just one of the tools that helps us decarbonize, and it’s particularly effective at helping us decarbonize parts of the economy that are hard to decarbonize: heavy trucks and heavy industry for example. Hydrogen manufacturers will be taking some “base power,” but they’ll be buying from the new producers of renewable energy that come online.

The demand is there for alternative jet fuels, according to Green, and the product “is getting there.” He says airlines are already lining up to buy it, if the product is available and affordable.

Does nuclear power have a place in our clean energy future, given concerns about nuclear waste? Green is positive about nuclear fission, likely small modular reactors, playing a role. If fusion can be made to work, it will be a game-changer.