Hydrogen: a clean, secure future for New York


On Dec. 13, the Long Island Power Authority board voted yet again to approve a raise in electric rates, this time over 11 percent for next year. Long Islanders have little choice but to absorb these price increases, as they have before.
At the same time, the state is scrambling toward goals set by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act that it seems unlikely to meet, while outdated and costly-to-operate power plants continue to pollute our state day after day. Meanwhile, New York’s landscape is a giant crime scene, littered with the bodies of countless dead renewable projects, opposed in town after town by locals who don’t want their fisheries destroyed, their forests cut down, or their quality of life ruined.
What’s worse, according to the New York Independent Systems Operator’s own analysis, the New York City area could have “a deficit as large as 446 megawatts as early as summer 2025.” We have begun construction of our first offshore wind farms, but at the current rate of deployment, wind can never be a reasonable path to a decarbonized future on its own. Solar generation is an important part of any diversified energy portfolio, but it also cannot shoulder the massive burden of powering New York alone. We need to continue to encourage solar and wind development, but we must also confront their current limitations.
New York must embrace energy diversification, and the point of convergence for all the various renewable or decarbonized forms of energy — from hydroelectric dams to nuclear power plants, and from wind farms to the solar panels that countless New Yorkers have on their roofs — is hydrogen.
Hydrogen is the most abundant substance in the universe. If you stand at any point along New York’s Great Lakes coastline, keep in mind that the primary way in which hydrogen is generated is electrolysis, a process in which you run an electric current over water and then collect the hydrogen that splits out. So all that water is our potential fuel source. When you combust hydrogen as a power source, all that is released is water vapor. So it is a nearly infinitely renewable, there is a nearly infinite amount of it, and it is 100 percent decarbonized.

Best of all, New York has already financed a massive network of natural gas pipelines to transport heating fuel across the state and into people’s homes, and researchers in Sweden and elsewhere are developing the standards for converting that infrastructure so it can carry hydrogen blends or even pure hydrogen for home heating.
Hydrogen is not a solution by itself. Rather, it is an energy source that can be created using the excess energy from other, renewable energy sources. That creation is known as “green” hydrogen. “Pink” hydrogen, created by using excess energy from nuclear power plants, is similarly benign. And recent discoveries of massive pockets of naturally occurring “white” hydrogen are also set to change its economic viability.
Hydrogen is not a monolithic solution, but it is a clean, locally sourced, near-infinite energy source that can meet New York’s consumption needs, help the state toward its “30 by 30” CLCPA goal, and provide jobs, reliability and energy independence. The state should embrace hydrogen, and leverage its unmatched intellectual capital, manufacturing potential, and access to the world’s waterways to become a center for hydrogen technology development and manufacturing.

Jake Blumencranz represents the 15th Assembly District.