Lancaster, the nation’s first city to embrace hydrogen power, reached out to Japan to enlist partner municipalities in the development and use of hydrogen as a new generation clean fuel.
Mayor R. Rex Parris hosted Japanese government officials on Nov. 6 to discuss pairing Lancaster with a “smart” city in Japan which is equally devoted to integrating hydrogen into its power grid, fuel distribution, storage, and use.
Parris committed to a hydrogen transition at previous City Council meetings and challenged other cities around the world to choose hydrogen as well. He is confident that Japan may be the first stop on a pathway for cities around the world to shift into using hydrogen.
Parris developed a vision for hydrogen as a new way to further decarbonize the city – a mission he embarked on over a decade ago. He attracted companies that have already built innovative hydrogen projects and are being developed with major companies like Hitachi Zosen Inova. He then developed a comprehensive plan for Lancaster to achieve its hydrogen goals, announcing it publicly at City Council meetings to involve local residents and educate the public on the benefits of hydrogen to Lancaster.
Hydrogen has wide-reaching benefits, including improving the air quality, providing a secure and reliable energy source, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and creating highly skilled jobs. Hydrogen is abundant in the environment. It can be produced from diverse domestic resources with the potential of near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrogen as an alternative fuel stems from its ability to power fuel cells with domestic production, fast fueling times, and high efficiency. About half of the US population lives in areas where air pollution levels are high enough to negatively impact public health and the environment.
“Hydrogen is the future, it is the decarbonization strategy of the future, and we will lead the effort with other cities following in Lancaster’s footsteps,” Parris told the delegation from Japan, which included Mr. Imai, Consul of the Consulate General of Japan and Mr. Saeki, Executive Director of the Japan External Trade Organization.
Lancaster is beginning sister-city type relationships with other cities seeking to emulate Lancaster’s strategy, sharing a roadmap.
“The transition to hydrogen does not have to be limited to the world’s most famous large cities. In fact, cities our size can do some things they can’t,” Parris said. “Current plans include building out hydrogen fueling stations for light-duty and heavy-duty vehicles. We support the state’s goals for GHG reductions and hydrogen is a great way to get there faster.”
SGH2 is bringing a green hydrogen production facility to Lancaster. The plant will gasify recycled mixed paper waste to produce green hydrogen that reduces carbon emissions by two to three times more than green hydrogen produced using electrolysis and renewable energy, and is five to seven times cheaper. Developed by NASA scientist Dr. Salvador Camacho and SGH2 CEO Dr. Robert T. Do, a biophysicist, and physician, the city of Lancaster will host and co-own the green hydrogen production facility,
“The world needs some good news right now, and we have it. Affordable, mass-produced, reliable green hydrogen is the missing link needed to decarbonize the world,” Dr. Do said.
Other projects in Lancaster include a gasification plant and Hitachi Zosen Inova’s $100 million anaerobic digestion plant which generates renewable natural gas (RNG) from organic waste for conversion to clean hydrogen.
“Hydrogen is the future and we invite other cities to join us on the path to decarbonization as a way to tackle Climate Change,” Parris said.
For other cities interested in pursuing hydrogen as a path to deep decarbonization, Parris suggests the following path:
- Choose an effective advocate to lead the hydrogen effort and build a team.
- Conduct a review of the city’s gas and electricity load, delineating any renewable energy assets.
- Prepare a comprehensive hydrogen uptake plan for the city.
- Communicate the plan broadly, develop consensus, and go through your City Council process.
- Work closely with the city and other economic development resources to attract hydrogen company investment.
- Reach out to other cities like Lancaster that have been through this process to learn best practices and how to execute on a citywide hydrogen strategy.
“We invite all cities, small and large, to accept our challenge to become a hydrogen-powered city and to join us on the path to a clean energy future,” Parris said. “We will be pleased to assist you.”
[Information via news release from the city of Lancaster.]