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Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Carves Out Billions of Dollars for Hydrogen: How Utah Could Benefit

Monday, November 15, 2021 President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure bill, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bill allocates money for alternative fuels such as hydrogen. Experts with the Western States Hydrogen Alliance  (WSHA) say the money could help drive large-scale deployment and investment for the hydrogen industry in Utah and the United States.

“Hydrogen fuel cells do perfectly in the large scale setting,” WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi said.“ Hydrogen fuel cells are a vital part of the decarbonization of especially, heavy duty equipment be it trucks busses, locomotives vessels, and even aviation”. 

According to an Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association, fuel cell technologies and hydrogen energy are being increasingly viewed as essential decarbonization options across the United States and around the world for a wide range of sectors, including transportation, goods and people movement, power generation, energy storage, natural gas blending, marine propulsion, aviation, heating, steelmaking, and other industrial applications.

“This bill demonstrates the incredible potential for creating the nation’s hydrogen economy,” added Frank Wolak. “FCHEA is encouraged by further discussions surrounding the Build Back Better Act which includes an array of tax and policy activities that complement this infrastructure bill and will continue to drive innovation, economic growth, and emissions reduction.”

The infrastructure bill includes a package of resources for hydrogen including $8 billion for development of a number of large-scale Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs across the country, $1 billion for Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Research and Development, and $500 million in funds for Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing and Recycling. Also, the bill directs the federal government to develop the country’s first national hydrogen roadmap and strategy. 

“We are excited that the Biden Administration and Congress are supporting four hydrogen hubs.
They want one that will be utilizing fossil fuels, one that will utilize nuclear power, one for renewable energy, and the last one is up in the air,” WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi said. 

The bill lays out other opportunities to help propel the deployment of l hydrogen energy and fuel cell technology throughout the nation’s energy and transportation systems. 

Bekemohammadi says the $1 billion allocated to clean hydrogen electrolysis research and development could help Utah based company OxEon Energy, a company that produces solid oxide electrolyzer and fuel cells. OxEon Energy is investigating the use of a solid oxide fuel cell stack as the power generation device for eVTOL applications. The challenges of robustness of the SOFC device was addressed under a NASA funded program to develop a solid oxide electrolysis unit that successfully generated oxygen on Mars. 

“On top of that, they are hiring locally so I anticipate there is going to be economic development through this money potentially being invested in OxEon”, WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi said. 

Another Utah based project that could benefit from the infrastructure bill is the Utah Inland Port Authority (UIPA). Located in the Utah Inland Port territory of Salt Lake City, Lancer Energy is building the state’s first super station. Experts say the station is going to be an SMR unit taking renewable natural gas to hydrogen and then taking the hydrogen through a fuel cell for DC fast charging. UIPA plans to capture hydrogen using SMR  (steam methane reforming) using natural gas. This capture requires a combination of renewable and carbon captured hydrogen. 

Republican Senator Mitt Romney was the states only lawmaker in Washington to support the President’s Infrastructure Bill.

Senator Romney released the following statement, After months of unnecessary delay by House Democratic leadership, today’s passage is a win for Utah, as we will now be better positioned to meet transportation challenges, mitigate drought conditions, prepare for and respond to wildfires, extend broadband to rural communities, and fulfill critical water needs. In stark contrast to Democrats’ efforts to pass a separate bill to drastically expand social programs, the bipartisan group I worked with proved that it’s possible to achieve solutions without raising taxes or adding trillions to the national debt. I urge President Biden to keep his promise to sign this legislation without delay, so we can modernize our nation’s physical infrastructure, address supply chain issues, and demonstrate that, even in polarized times, Congress can still come together on behalf of the American people”. 

Utah Highlights:

Authorizes $3 Billion for Utah’s Roads and Highways

  • Utah has 2,064 miles of roads in poor condition. Commute times are up 7.2% in the state since 2011 and bad roads cost drivers an average of $709 per year in repair. This bipartisan legislation authorizes roughly $3 billion in highway funding for Utah over five years to construct, rebuild, and maintain its roads and highways.

 Includes key legislative priorities championed by Senator Romney:

  • Smart Intersections Act: Provides resources to state, local, and tribal governments to improve the functioning of their traffic signals;
  • Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission Act: Establishes a commission to study and recommend fire prevention, mitigation, management, and rehabilitation policies for forests and grasslands;
  • Secures additional funding for wildfire mitigation and recovery, including hazardous fuel removal, burned area recovery, prescribed fires, shared stewardship contracts and agreements, and more;
  • $50 million for Central Utah Project Completion Act: Provides water for municipal use, mitigation, hydroelectric power, fish and wildlife, and conservation;
  • $500 million for the Western Area Power Administration for drought-related shortfalls; 
  • $300 million to fund outstanding Emergency Watershed Program needs for post-fire recovery and wildfire mitigation;
  • $100 million for drought contingency plan funding;
  • $1 billion for the FEMA Building Resilient Infrastructure Communities (BRIC) program for pre-disaster mitigation, including wildfire and drought projects;
  • $214 million to fully fund the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement: Legislation to bring running water to the 40% of Navajo Nation in Utah who lack it; and
  • $1.7 billion for the construction and improvement of Indian Health Services sanitation facilities.

Delivers $219 million to Utah for water revolving funds

  • The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would authorize roughly $219 million over five years for the Beehive State through the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program & Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

Invests in Utah’s Airports

  • In July, the FAA announced Utah airports received over $1.8 million in federal grants through the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $25 billion for airport improvement projects such as expansions, installations, assisting with planning, rebuilding runways, improving lighting and runways, and air navigation facilities.

Provides $65 billion to expand broadband access across the country

  • Builds on Senator Romney’s efforts to expand broadband access to unserved and underserved communities in Utah.

Eliminates federal red tape by reforming the permitting process to speed construction projects

  • Builds on the Federal Permitting Council’s efforts to shortening the government approval process for large infrastructure projects by bringing relevant agencies together to reduce inefficiencies. 

    Provides $40 billion in funding for bridge construction, maintenance, and repair

  • Of that, $30 billion will be apportioned by formula to ensure bridges in every state are provided with needed resources. Utah currently has 62 bridges classified as structurally deficient.

About the Western States Hydrogen Association 

The Western States Hydrogen Alliance is a member-based non-profit alliance, dedicated to advancing the market for hydrogen and fuel cells in the commercial sector within the Western United States. WSHA’s focus is on swift and decisive action in the immediate term, acknowledging that an open window of opportunity exists in the market now.

About the Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association 

The Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA) represents over seventy leading companies and organizations that are advancing innovative, clean, safe, and reliable energy technologies. FCHEA drives support and provides a consistent industry voice to regulators and policymakers. Our educational efforts promote the environmental and economic benefits of fuel cell and hydrogen energy technologies. 

Resources

Utah Clean Cities Coalition Hydrogen Projects 

A beginners Guide to Hydrogen in Utah 

Fuel Cell and Hydrogen Energy Association (FCHEA)

Western States Hydrogen Association

listen to the entire interview with WSHA Executive Director Roxana Bekemohammadi. 

 

 

 

 

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Utah Clean Cities attends Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit

By Marti Sorensen Intern Utah Clean Cities

On October 27 (Wed.) and 28 (Thurs.), 2021, Utah Clean Cities attended the recent Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit held in Kanab, Utah.This event aims to develop and elevate outdoor recreation communities, foster stewardship, and improve the health and quality of life of all Utah residents. More than 250 attendees including: universities, non-profits, and local companies.The show of support at the Summit was a fantastic display of Utahns’ passion and love for the public lands. The East Zion mountain biking trail’s ribbon cutting ceremony kicked off the summit, including remarks from speakers Jeff Bradybaugh, Superintendent of Zion National Park, Brent Chamberlain, Kane County Commissioner, Pitt Grewe, Director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, Mark Preiss, Director of the Zion National Park Foundation, and Vicki Varela, Managing Director of the Utah Office of Tourism. The 10 miles of new bike trail is one of the many features planned for the east entrance of the national park in the coming years to help address overcrowding. The trail comes as National Park Service data show more than an estimated 4 million visitors have visited the park already this year, through September, which puts it on pace to shatter its visitation record of over 4.5 million set in 2017. 

“The next generation of our park experience in our public land experience is going to look like a collaboration that is not just about our visitors and their experience, but it’s about the health and well-being of our communities. We’re going to determine what that looks like for the next 100 years,” Mark Preiss said. 

The land for the 10 miles of the mountain bike trails that opened Wednesday was donated by two local families: the McLaws and Neeleman families; the latter is the owner of the Zion Ponderosa Ranch Resort, which is located in Kane County between the park’s eastern boundaries and the town of Orderville. 

At the trail opening, Utah Clean Cities unveiled  its new EV shuttle, which is part of the larger EV Zion Project, in order to promote the goals of strengthening outdoor recreation and improving health for all Utahns. This new EV Shuttle was created to navigate the varied weather and terrain of Zion National Park and the neighboring areas of Southern Utah. Both the EV shuttle and the new East Zion mountain biking trail illustrate how collaboration and forward thinking can lead to significant and long-lasting infrastructure that can be used by all. This brief demonstration is part of a greater transportation vision for this area, which is prone to traffic congestion due to the park’s high visitor numbers. 

Watch the entire ribbon cutting here. 

 

 

 

 

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A recap of the 13 Annual Alternative Fuels Awareness Month: READ the Governor’s Declaration

Governor Declares November as Advanced Zero Emission Vehicle and Fuels Awareness Month

Event demonstrates Utah leadership on clean transportation

Salt Lake City, UT – Utah kicked off the 13th annual Advanced Zero Emission Vehicle and Fuels Awareness Month with an event showcasing the state’s efforts to advance development of clean transportation choices in both the private and public sectors. Governor Spencer Cox’s official declaration was read today by Thom Carter, Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Energy Development. The declaration highlights the emerging portfolio of advanced fueled vehicles, both public and private, including fuels produced from Utah-sourced agricultural and municipal wastes, renewable electric, hydrogen, methane, and biofuels. Utah is one of nine western states to explore electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure deployments throughout the west as part of the Western Governors Association’s Electric Vehicles Roadmap Initiative. Additionally, the REVWest program has grown into the Utah-led CORWest project which is recognized as a national rural model for building electric vehicle infrastructure throughout rural gateway communities, national parks, and scenic byways.

In Southern Utah, more than 30 public and private partners have collaborated to advance Smart Mobility systems in gateway communities, including the EVZion electric shuttle demonstration pilot and the commitment of Zion National Park to electrify all busing services in the park.

“Half of all air pollution along the Wasatch Front comes from the transportation sector. Of that, fifty percent comes from the tailpipes of medium and heavy-duty vehicles. The 13th Annual Alternative Fuels Awareness Month amplifies opportunities while directly addressing the real and perceived barriers to using abundant, affordable, and Utah-based clean fuels solutions. Awareness is the most urgent call to bring action and real deployment of zero emissions vehicles to Utah’s transportation sector,” said Utah Clean Cities Executive Director Tammie Bostick.

Manufacturers currently offer more than 850 models of alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, ethanol and renewable fuels for compressed natural gas and propane to provide state-of-the-art road-ready options for vehicle classes for light, medium and heavy-duty vehicle fleets. Utah is working collaboratively with the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, United States Department of Energy, and the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration to build the highway systems of the future with Utah’s existing Alternative Fuel Corridor along major interstate corridors offering 868 alternative fueling sites.

The Utah Inland Port Authority is also working to bring alternative fuel options and zero-emissions technologies to heavy-duty transportation and logistics fleets. Partnering with BayoTech, Lancer Energy, and others, UIPA has begun a project to develop a distributed hydrogen production hub and fueling station within the Salt Lake valley jurisdictional area. The Port Authority is also working with ASPIRE, the Utah State University electrification technology leader, on port electrification and hydrogen technologies with renewable sources from Utah’s own energy sector for port-to-port freight movement.

“Environmental sustainability and economic development are not mutually exclusive,” said Jack Hedge, UIPA Executive Director. “UIPA’s role is to invest in all kinds of alternative fuel infrastructure to lead the region to cleaner, more sustainable options for the logistics industry.”

Demonstration vehicles showcased at the event included an all-electric bus from the Salt Lake City School District, a 100% Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) Ford F150 from Lancer Energy, a RNG refuse and recycling hauler, and Tesla passenger cars.

 

Alternative Fuel Awareness Month in Utah 

Whereas, November marks the 13th Alternative Fuels Awareness Month, which continues to raise public awareness and encourage the adoption of clean transportation choices in Utah to reduce pollution and improve air quality;

Whereas, we support the Western Governors Association’s Electric Vehicles Roadmap Initiative, providing a coordinated effort between nine western states to explore electric vehicle adoption and infrastructure deployment throughout the west; 

Whereas, manufacturers currently offer more than 850 models of alternative fuel vehicles, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, battery-electric, ethanol, compressed natural gas, liquified natural gas and propane to provide state-of-the-art, road-ready options for light, medium and heavy-duty vehicle classes;

Whereas, the emerging portfolio of advanced-fuel vehicles that operate on Utah-produced sources continue to ensure our energy security with growing numbers of renewable options for electric, propane, biodiesel, compressed natural gas, and from agricultural and municipal waste;

Whereas, the State of Utah, working collaboratively with the United States Department of Energy, the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration and the Utah Clean Cities Coalition, continues to build transportation systems that will meet future needs through Utah’s existing Alternative Fuel Corridor, offering 870 alternative fueling sites along major interstate corridors;

Whereas, the REVWest initiative, involving eight Intermountain West Governors, has grown into the Utah-led CORWest project and is now recognized as a national rural model for building electric vehicle infrastructure throughout rural gateway communities, national parks and scenic byways; 

Whereas, we applaud southern Utah leaders who have worked tirelessly to create smart mobility systems in gateway communities including the EVZion electric shuttle pilot and the commitment of Zion National Park to electrify all busing services in the park;

Now, therefore, I, Spencer Cox, Governor of the great State of Utah, do hereby declare November 2021 Alternative Fuel Awareness Month in Utah, henceforth known as Advanced Zero Emission Vehicle and Fuels Awareness Month.

 

Alternative Fuel Awareness Month in Utah

 

 

 

 

 

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New mountain bike trail in Zion National Park part of plan to spread out impact of crowds

Posted on October 28, 2021

By Alastair Lee Bitsóí The Salt Lake Tribune

Article 

East Fork • The McLaws family has owned land outside of Zion National Park for 23 years. Most of this land, which consists of juniper, pinon and pine, would normally be reserved as a family ranch and for off-spring inheritance and fortune. Valued at $1.3 million, they’re giving it away.

The McLaws family donated about 20 acres of their lands to a private-public partnership called the East Zion Initiative, which plans to develop and protect the east gateway entrance into Zion National Park.

One of the first projects to come out of this collaborative is the East Zion Bike Trail Network. On Wednesday, the McLaws, along with state and Kane County officials, the Zion Forever Project and officials from Zion National Park celebrated the first 10-miles of a 24.5 mountain bike trail system that will loop around the eastern edge of the famous park.

Zion National Park is one of the most popular parks in the nation, with approximately 4.5 million visitors coming from all over the world to see its iconic red canyons. Oftentimes, tourists pack into the park’s propane-fueled buses to hike, camp or bike through the 15-miles of the canyon’s steep 3,000 feet cliffs. Park officials want to disperse visitors throughout the park to lessen the impact of the crowds.

“I do understand from talking to people, and having them in moments around the campfire, that people do need this,” Kevin McLaws said, referring to how the East Zion Initiative is trying to develop the land in a sustainable manner.

The East Zion Initiative was founded with the goal of providing new experiences and recreational opportunities that expand beyond what Zion National Park offers in its park borders. Most times visitors come to Zion for popular visits and hikes like Angels Landing and the Narrows, but there is more recreation beyond the cliffs.

Along with the visitor center, the east entrance is getting an electric shuttle bus system. A pilot project by the Utah Clean Cities, the electric buses will begin to shuttle people to and from Zion in Kanab, according to its executive director Tammie Bostick.

Over 23 years ago, the McLaws made an offer on 20 acres of land with future generations in mind. The goal, McLaws said, is to also help offset visitor impact to Zion National Park, which annually attracts about 4 million visitors. This year, the park is already about to surpass the 4.5 million visitors that came in 2019.

“It certainly becomes a place that can relieve the pressure of the main canyon in Zion,” McLaws said after the ribbon-cutting ceremony near the intersection of Highway 9 and North Fork Road.

Construction on the new bike trail, built by American Conservation Experience, began last fall, and will now be a cycling option for the one million visitors that enter Zion National Park’s east entrance, said Zion National Park Superintendent Jeffery Bradybaugh.

The superintendent explained the East Zion Initiative is an example of diversifying the recreational experience for the region.

“We want to provide visitors with a range of experiences,” Bradybaugh said.

The proposed visitor center, which will be staffed by the National Park Service, was a venue that NPS identified as a need in 2000, but has since lacked the money to fully operate it. Overall, the NPS says it has a need for $11 billion in infrastructure.

Bradybaugh added that partnerships — like those with Kane County, the Zion Forever Project, the McLaws family and others — will allow Zion to have a visitor center in the east “with minimal impact to the park’s operation.”

Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain said that development in East Zion has been led by the county and its partners, including the securing of a $15.5 million loan for the proposed visitor center.

Citing the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute’s report on the economic impact of Zion National Park as the tool for the new growth, Chamberlain said that the park is a vital part of Kane and Washington counties. The report, published in March 2021, found that the park’s east entrance could generate 545 jobs and $36.9 million per year from 2020 to 2030 for southwest Utah.

“It’s just its incredible country, so it provides an opportunity,” Chamberlain said, noting that visitors would be able to park their huge recreational vehicles at the visitor center and have the option to ride in shuttles and no longer slow down traffic through the Mount Carmel Tunnel.

For the Zion Forever Project, which helped to fundraise for the bike trails, the grand opening has finally come to fruition after many months of private-public conversations. Before riding his bike on the new trail, Mark Preiss, director for the Zion Forever Project, said, “I think it’s been inspired by our local community. And I think that when we think about pioneer spirit, this is sort of a next gen[eration] version of that.”

 

 

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EXCLUSIVE: Inside Zion National Park’s first electric bus to park’s east entrance

Posted on October 19, 2021

By K. Sofie Wills, St. George Spectrum & Daily News

Posted on October 27, 2021

Article 

The first electric shuttle for Zion National Park took its first drive to just outside the park’s east side on Wednesday, with officials celebrating the opening of the first 10 miles of mountain biking trails at the new East Zion trails project.

The Spectrum took an exclusive first ride on the shuttle’s maiden voyage from Kanab to Glendale with state and local officials, with Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain at the helm.

With 14 seats, a wheelchair ramp and a quiet engine, leaders on board discussed the road to get to this point after years of grant-writing, applications, campaigning, managing and building to finally watch the shuttle run for the first time.

The $2 million shuttle was equipped with electronic mirrors inside that showed the driver the outside of the bus, with a dashboard battery level gauge positioned n the dash instead of a fuel gauge.

A little over a half-hour later, the shuttle landed in Glendale, just outside Zion’s east entrance at North Fork Road, where more than 60 people gathered to celebrate the trail opening and the East Zion Initiative.

Mark Preiss, director of the Zion Forever Project, the park’s charity arm, welcomed the shuttle by saying the East Zion Initiative is the next step toward the future of the park, the area and conservation.

“The next generation of our park experience in our public land experience is going to look like a collaboration that is not just about our visitors and their experience, but it’s about the health and well-being of our communities,” Preiss said. “We’re going to determine what that looks like for the next 100 years.”

Preiss said the shuttle project and the East Zion Initiative is “next-generation innovation” that requires extensive partnership to distribute the nearly 4 million visitors who come to the nation’s third most-visited park.

“No one makes money with visitors sitting in lines for hours,” Preiss said.

Tammie Bostick, executive director of Utah Clean Cities, said this project and their work to push Utah to clean energies has put the state on the radar as a leader for the entire country.

“I cannot tell you how inspiring your public-private collaboration is to the whole state. You are the poster child of creating a sustainable recreation and visitor economy,” Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism, said.

The proposed $16 million visitor’s center, a second for the park, is just down the road from the bike trail and marked by a few tents. A formal opening for the shuttles and a groundbreaking for the visitor’s center will be held in mid-November.

Officials discussed the vision for the area around the trailhead, with a roundabout leading to an “EV Electric shuttle bus hub, and regional transportation center linking guests and visitors to other area towns and places,” a press release said.

Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain said that even though the county is sparsely populated, it is doing some heavy work for the park and the state with the East Zion Initiative — something he calls the “holy Zion Initiative.”

“You’re standing at a point in time here where destiny has brought everything together … We’re not done yet,” he said.

Kane County Commissioner Brent Chamberlain said that even though the county is sparsely populated, it is doing some heavy work for the park and the state with the East Zion Initiative — something he calls the “holy Zion Initiative.”

“You’re standing at a point in time here where destiny has brought everything together … We’re not done yet,” he said.

Last August, The Spectrum wrote an exclusive investigative series into why the park’s aging shuttles could not receive funding to replace them, something leaders credit with leading to the federal Department of Transportation grant of $33 million for new electric shuttles in February.

Chargers for the shuttle were delivered to the Kanab Center in May, where future shuttles will charge overnight.

Jeff Bradybaugh, superintendent of Zion, said the trail system is a “tremendous recreational asset” and emphasized the need for visitors to “create” as part of their recreation.

“It’s so important for us to be out in nature, to explore our cultural sites to regenerate our spirit,” he said.

The ribbon-cutting is the first event of the eighth annual Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit held in Kanab, which will continue through Thursday.

“The Utah Outdoor Recreation Summit is a gathering place for all sectors of the outdoor

recreation industry to build a vision together for the future, health, and vitality of outdoor

recreation in Utah,” a press release said.

Funding and land for the East Zion Initiative came through land grants and easements from private landowners, donations to the Zion Forever Project, funding through the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation Grant, The National Park Foundation, Kane County, the release said. E-bikes for a ride through the new trail were provided by Magnum.

“So as we think about moving ahead, and we think about recreating, and we think about renewing our spirit. Let’s remember that our work is not done,” Bradybaugh said.

 

 

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Salt Lake City School District’s Transition to Clean Fuel

The Salt Lake City School District  (SLCSD) unveiled 500 solar panels situated on top of canopies at a bus barn located on the Westside of Salt Lake City. School officials say the solar panels will produce enough energy to power 45 percent of the facility including block heaters. The 500 solar panels cost the district upwards of $400,000 paid for in part by a $180,000 grant from Blue Ski Solar Energy.  The district says it plans to install 500 more solar panels on a west facing canopy, doing so will help the district run this bus facility on 95 percent solar energy. 

The district says this specific area was chosen because environmental studies show Salt Lake’s west side has some of the highest levels of pollution in the state, and the bus routes in this area will allow the district to utilize the buses to their full potential.  The electric school buses do cost more than traditional buses, but the higher purchase price will be offset by savings in fuel and maintenance costs. The real benefit is the environmental impact. The electric school buses are zero-emissions vehicles and are extremely quiet. Each panel has a 25 year life expectancy and supports the district’s commitment to alternative fuels, clean transportation and sustainable energy.

Every day, Utah’s fleet of 2,987 school buses provided transportation to 195,000 children. Out of this amount, which includes 41 school districts and charter schools, the vast majority run on diesel. To reduce emissions and adopt alternative sources of fuels, school districts are integrating compressed natural gas (CNG) buses that emit 40 to 86% less particulate matter into the air than diesel buses.      

Earlier this year, Salt Lake City School District introduced four Micro Bird electric school buses into its fleet. These electric buses replaced some of the district’s aging diesel buses. The district says the electric school buses, which are reportedly the first for the district and the state, were partially funded through the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ’s) Volkswagen settlement program and Utah Clean Diesel Program (UCDP). 

“The District has been looking into all alternative-fuel school buses for several years, but when we were made aware of the grants available through DEQ, it gave us a shot of motivation to move forward with the electric buses,” Fleet Manager Ken Martinez said. 

Currently, SLCSD has a total of 100 buses in their fleet and intends to convert 20% to 25% of those buses to electric, with an eventual goal of converting 70% to 75% of its fleet to electric, according to the DEQ. The agency said that the district is also updating its bus depot to accommodate charging stations for the new electric buses. The charging stations will reportedly be housed under canopies equipped with solar panels that may eventually be used to provide part of the power to the buses

EV Grants 

SLCSD took advantage of grant money from the The Department of Air Quality’s Volkswagen (VW) Environmental Mitigation Trust. The state of Utah is a beneficiary of  $35 million. SLCSD received two rounds of funding from the Utah Department of Environmental Quality totaling more than $1.5 million which helped the district retire some of its older diesel-powered buses. The district says these grant money helped them purchase the new EV fleet.

Other Incentives

There are other federal incentives people can take advantage of when working to transition from a gas vehicle to an electrical vehicle. All-electric and plug-in hybrid cars purchased new or after 2010 may be eligible for a federal income tax credit of up to $7,500. The credit amount will vary based on the capacity of the battery used to power the vehicle. State and/or local incentives may also apply. Small neighborhood electric vehicles do not qualify for this credit, but they may qualify for another credit.

 

Utility/Private Incentives

 

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A recap of Hydrogen @ Scale in Utah

Hydrogen @ Scale Event Overview

Hydrogen @ Scale in Utah is a turning point for Utah’s energy sector by highlighting various renewable hydrogen related projects. Our statewide partnerships are truly leading the way in implementing clean transportation options that make sense for both our urban and rural communities.  We are excited to be a part of this opportunity to highlight the innovation and high profile projects currently energizing our state. Utah Clean Cities, Lancer Energy and our close working network of energy sector partners and clean air advocates are focusing on advanced fuel and energy options to propel Utah into the future of clean transportation.

 

Full Speaker Session

 

 

 

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Why Utah aims to be the ‘hydrogen hub for the crossroads of the West’

Posted on October 19, 2021

By Carter Williams with KSL Radio

Article 

SALT LAKE CITY — As a trailer holding a hydrogen-power generator remained open parked next to the steps of the Utah Capitol, an attendee of a Utah event highlighting the future of the alternative fuel sources peered in to see how it worked.

“This is impressive,” he muttered, staring at one of the hydrogen storage devices inside the trailer.

The scene may have looked futuristic to some. The hydrogen-powered generator was hauled in by a truck powered by methane-captured natural gas and the zero-emission device was also being used to power an electric vehicle.

But the scene wasn’t futuristic at all. It was very much in the present — and all three power sources are growing in Utah.

“The future of (advanced) fuels is here … those are all fuels that are here in Utah,” said Scott Brandeberry, the CEO of Lancer Energy, a Utah-based company that focuses on turning hydrogen and methane into energy, referencing the three energy sources of the items parked outside of the building.

Tuesday’s event — hosted by Lancer Energy and the Utah Clean Cities Coalition — showcased how Utah is making massive strides in hydrogen and other advanced fuel sources. Hydrogen, renewable natural gas (methane), and electric vehicles can all drastically improve Utah’s air quality not just in the future but now, the event organizers said.

It brought in dozens of energy investors from all over the country to Utah so they could see firsthand how hydrogen and other advanced fuels can reshape the future of transportation and energy.

As Rep. Melissa Ballard, R-North Salt Lake, put it: “We’re going to be the hydrogen hub for the crossroads of the West.”

“We have the opportunity at utility-scale to produce and distribute from many applications and we have Utah manufacturers who are making these applications for Utahns and also to be distributed across the country,” she continued.

Attendees of an event highlighting the future of the alternative fuel check out a display of renewable natural gas, hydrogen and electric vehicles Tuesday.
Tuesday’s event also highlighted efforts within the renewable natural gas (converting methane into energy) and electric vehicle fields, which can also help reduce vehicle emissions. For instance, Ballard pointed to projects in Utah that have the ability to capture methane from hog farms and wastewater and turn it into energy.

However, hydrogen was the star of the show.

All in on hydrogen

Tammie Bostick, the executive director for Utah Clean Cities Coalition, said the Beehive State is now among the leader of the nation in hydrogen fuel deployment. There are a handful of current and future projects across the state aimed at producing, storing and utilizing hydrogen.

So how did Utah get here and why?

First, hydrogen has actually been classified as an alternative fuel for nearly three decades now. It was included in that category under the Energy Policy Act of 1992, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Bostick said hydrogen wasn’t exactly a forgotten alternative fuel source all these years but it was certainly underutilized in the energy sector.

“I think we were so heavily dependent on two fuels, gas and diesel, and all of our national interests were invested in that. So hydrogen was just essentially part of the drilling process but wasted or captured and used in a small way,” she said. “But it is a very strong and powerful fuel.”

The Department of Energy points out that a hydrogen fuel cell paired with an electric motor is “two to three times more efficient” than a traditional internal combustion engine that runs on gasoline. It also only emits water vapor and warm air, so it is considered a zero-emission source.

That captured the attention of Utah lawmakers in recent years, especially members of the bipartisan Utah Clean Air Caucus, as they searched for solutions on how to reduce carbon emissions and improve the state’s air quality. Per a report from the University of Utah’s Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute published last year, Utah emitted about 59 tons of carbon dioxide in 2016 and averages about 19.3 metric tons per person annually. Researchers say vehicles account for roughly half of the pollution produced.

There have been a handful of bills proposed and even passed in the Utah Legislature regarding hydrogen in recent years, with a push to increase production and fueling stations in the state. Ballard said Utah will open its first hydrogen fueling station early next year; there are currently just three states that currently have stations.

The $150 million public infrastructure district that the Utah Inland Port Authority passed last week also includes funding for a future hydrogen refueling station. Jack Hedge, the executive director of the Utah Inland Port Authority, spoke briefly on the Utah Inland Port refueling station project. The plan calls for it to include renewable natural gas and electric vehicle stations, in addition to hydrogen.

Hedge referred to trucks as the “lifeblood of the economy” because 90% of all goods are transported by them; however, he pointed out that diesel-fueled trucks produce a heavy amount of carbon emissions among the vehicles on Utah roads. He said it’s why the port authority sought funding for alternative fuels.

In a somewhat similar context, Ballard said there’s a bill in the works for the 2022 legislative session that will “strongly encourage” Utah freight switchers — trains that move goods around railyards — to convert to zero-emission sources beginning in 2025. Some companies are already looking at hydrogen as an alternative for freight trains.

An electric vehicle is charged by a hydrogen power generator during an event outside of the Utah Capitol Tuesday.

In addition to freight, Bostick said she’s thrilled about a future plant in Kane County that will capture methane from wastewater and turn it into hydrogen. The byproduct will then be converted into electricity that will run electric vehicle shuttles at the east entrance of Zion National Park.

Kim Frost, the executive director for Utah Clean Air Partnership, otherwise known as UCAIR, said it’s “exciting” to learn about the potential of hydrogen. That’s because she believes it can aid the key reason that got Utah interested in the first place.

“Using hydrogen along with other alternative fuel vehicles, such as electric and hybrid, for transportation, has the potential to be incredibly beneficial to improving our air here in Utah,” she said.

A ‘promising new future’

Hydrogen has also captured the attention of national leaders for the same reason Utah leaders zeroed in on it. President Joe Biden earlier this year set a target for the U.S. to cut its greenhouse gas pollution in half by 2030 and hydrogen was listed as one of the ways to do it.

“The United States can address carbon pollution from industrial processes by supporting carbon capture as well as new sources of hydrogen — produced from renewable energy, nuclear energy, or waste — to power industrial facilities,” White House officials wrote in April. “The government can use its procurement power to support early markets for these very low- and zero-carbon industrial goods.”

Producers of hydrogen energy feel also confident about its future. Mauricio Vargas, the CEO of New Mexico-based energy company Bayotech, which manufactures the hydrogen-powered generator that was on display Tuesday and will oversee that future hydrogen refueling station at the Inland Port, said the company’s hydrogen technology is already “at parity” with diesel in cost.

Hydrogen fuel cells, Bostick added, aren’t just a possible solution to emissions challenges; they can also help overcome barriers to other alternative sources. Case in point, it can be paired with solar electricity to help run battery cells at night.

All of these are helping the industry grow. Bayotech, for example, received an investment of up to $157 million earlier this year, allowing it to drastically upscale its business. In addition to Lancer and Bayotech, Big Navajo Energy, Dominion Energy, Renewable Innovations and Stadler Rail are all companies with ties in Utah to produce hydrogen or build products with it, according to Utah Clean Cities.

For Vargas, his business’s growth is proof that energy innovation can be both impactful and lucrative.

“Clean energy products like this provide tens of millions of dollars in direct investment and create high-value jobs,” he said. “It offers opportunities for a state to pivot to a promising new future.”

 

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A Beginners Guide to Hydrogen Energy in Utah

By Jerad Giottonini

Utah Clean Cities and Lancer Energy is hosting Hydrogen @ Scale in Utah, an Advanced Fuels event focusing on hydrogen projects throughout the state. 

The event is on October 19, 2021 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on the south steps of the Utah State Capitol. If you are interested in attending, please register here. 

 

A Beginners Guide to Hydrogen Energy in Utah 

Over the last decade, Hydrogen has become a major consideration in the realm of advanced and cleaner energy options, with the Bidens administration prioritizing the enhancement of hydrogen technologies and projects that acknowledge the “role that hydrogen must play, providing an incredible opportunity for innovation, development and market proliferation internationally” (FCHEA, 2021)

What is Hydrogen? 

Hydrogen (H2) is the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. It exists in water, hydrocarbons (such as methane), and organic matter and as an invisible gas, hydrogen can be used in a variety of technologies to harvest its energy. 

Depending on the source, hydrogen fuel may contain low levels of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. Experts say, producing hydrogen from these compounds is one of the challenges of using hydrogen as a fuel.

 

How is Hydrogen Produced?

Hydrogen can be produced from fossil fuels, biomass, and water electrolysis with electricity. The environmental impact and energy efficiency of hydrogen depends on how it is produced. 

Natural Gas Reforming/Gasification: 

  •  Synthesis gas is a mixture of hydrogen, carbon monoxide, and a small amount of carbon dioxide. Syn gas is created by reacting natural gas with high-temperature steam. The carbon monoxide is reacted with water to produce additional hydrogen. A synthesis gas can also be created by reacting coal or biomass with high-temperature steam and oxygen in a pressurized gasifier. This converts the coal or biomass into gaseous components—a process called gasification. The resulting synthesis gas contains hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which is reacted with steam to separate the hydrogen (AFDC). 

Electrolysis: 

  • An electric current splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. If the electricity comes from a renewable source like solar or wind, the result will be considered renewable. (AFDC).
  • Renewable Liquid Reforming: Renewable liquid fuels, such as ethanol, are reacted with high-temperature steam to produce hydrogen near the point of end use (AFDC
  • Fermentation (Biomass): Biomass is converted into sugar-rich feedstocks that can be fermented to produce hydrogen (AFDC).

The U.S. The Department of Energy says hydrogen could help the United States transition to a more advanced energy option but the way hydrogen is produced must reduce overall emissions and provide a renewable and cleaner energy option from well-to-wheel. 

Below are projects that are currently underway in Utah to help explain the different types of hydrogen and how its energy is produced. 

Renewable Hydrogen is produced with no harmful greenhouse gases. Green hydrogen is made by using clean electricity from surplus renewable energy sources, like solar or wind power, to electrolyse water. Electrolysers use an electrochemical reaction to split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, emitting zero-carbon dioxide in the process.

The Advanced Clean Energy Storage (ACES) project is located 130 miles south of Salt Lake City. The project is a geological formation called the Salt Dome. The Salt Dome is considered by some to be the largest renewable energy reservoir in the world. 

The project aims to build a storage facility for 1,000 megawatts of clean power, partly by putting hydrogen into underground salt caverns. The owners, Mitsubishi Power say the project is scheduled to be completed by the year 2025 and would combine renewable hydrogen, solid-oxide fuel cells, and compressed air energy storage to produce enough energy to power 150,000 households. There are other forms of hydrogen capture happening across the state.

Carbon Captured Hydrogen is produced by SMR (steam methane reforming) using natural gas. All carbon is captured (99%) then sequestered or used in industrial applications. 

In Utah, AVF Energy is looking at a project that would use Invasive Tree species for a 99% carbon capture.  AVF Energy plans to convert the invasive wood into biochar which has multiple end uses from Green Coal replacement in Steel production to high quality fertiliser and soil amendment. Experts say the renewable hydrogen produced from this technology can be used in transportation applications as a future carbon negative energy source. The Carbon gas captured can be used for Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) in oil wells in Eastern Utah or in Sequestration projects.  

Low Carbon Hydrogen is produced by SMR  (steam methane reforming) using natural gas. This capture requires a combination of renewable and carbon captured hydrogen.  

Located in the Utah Inland Port territory of Salt Lake City, Lancer Energy is building the state’s first super station. Lancer Energy says the station is going to be an SMR unit taking renewable natural gas to hydrogen and then taking the hydrogen through a fuel cell for DC fast charging. 

Lancer Energy is in negotiations for a second super station to be located in Southern Utah. Lancer Energy says this station would connect the ports in Long Beach, California to the Inland Port in Salt Lake City all on renewable fuels. 

Zero Carbon Hydrogen is produced by electrolyzing water using electricity from nuclear power. In the electrolyser, electric energy is used to split water into Hydrogen and oxygen gases. 

Right now, there are no current projects designated as Zero Carbon. This process consumes massive amounts of water and due to the state’s severe drought conditions has been frowned upon by some at the state level. 

Carbon Negative Hydrogen that uses renewable sources and utilized carbon capture technology to remove more carbon than it produces to make a Green, low cost Hydrogen. 

Although hydrogen is a cleaner, more reliable source of energy that can be produced domestically, its long term impacts on the environment are unclear. The federal government is focusing on hydrogen to help address the impacts of harmful emissions, creating the next generation of workforce opportunity, and reducing our impacts to the changing climate. Utah Clean Cities and its partner Lancer Energy supports clean and renewable hydrogen and advanced fuels projects in Utah. 

To learn more about Hydrogen, visit: 

Department of Energy Hydrogen Program 

Alternative Fuels Data Center – Hydrogen Production and Distribution

EERE – Hydrogen Delivery 

White House Fact Sheet: President Biden sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Untion Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies (April 2021)

 

Utah Alternative Fuels and the Impact of COVID-19

Utah Alternative Fuels and the Impact of COVID-19

COVID-19 has influenced many systems of operation in Utah and the nation. As new information is discovered, new responses and approaches are being tested throughout the world, especially in the realm of transportation. 

Utah Clean Cities (UCC) is committed to keeping Utah at the center of innovation and smart mobility.

Utah Transit Authority (UTA) has been one of Utah’s hardest-hit organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic and has been responsive and adaptive to both its operators and customers with routing and safety measures.

  • UTA has seen a drop in ridership of up to 65% and as a result, the company has reduced some commuter-only services where alternative modes of transportation are available. 
  • The majority of routes are continuing with these reductions and a comprehensive list of route changes is available. 
  • UTA is committed to ensuring that its riders are getting the services they need, and they encourage riders to make their voices heard on how UTA is currently handling the barriers they are facing or how they can improve their services by filling out a survey
  • In addition to complying with the Salt Lake County mandate, UTA announced that, in order to keep public transportation safe for riders and employees, everyone is required to wear a face mask. UTA made a statement to assure those without access to a face mask that they will be providing them for riders at customer service locations and eventually on transit vehicles. 

Swift action was taken by UTA to try to limit the spread of COVID-19. In the long term, this could benefit UTA versus other public transportation organizations who may experience a greater loss in finances and ridership. This is evident from the fact that other public transportation organizations are looking at upwards of 70% reductions. 

COVID-19 & Utah Air Quality 

The significant reduction in air pollutants in the Salt Lake Valley during the pandemic has emphasized the need for an increase in clean, advanced fuels in the U.S. transportation sector. Measurements of air pollutants in March from various monitoring stations show that nitric oxide (NOX) levels were 57% lower than the average and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) was 36% lower than average while particulate matter (PM2.5) is down by 59% and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels were 19% and 33% lower than average at the Sugarhouse and University of Utah stations, respectively.

Imagine, as we do strategically here at UCC, what it would look like to fully commit to zero & near-zero emissions and beyond zero, carbon benefiting fuels found in renewable energy: electric, natural gas, biofuels which in the renewable form actually prevent greenhouse gases from being released.

Alternative Fuel Solutions: Fuel & Energy Independence

Today, with the availability of over 12 alternative fuels on the market and various alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs), now is the time to transition from conventional to alternative fuels and AFVs. From a financial perspective, we know that fleets look at the total cost of ownership (TCO) and return on investment (ROI) as primary factors. And while the adoption of AFVs may seem cost-prohibitive and some fleets carry an outdated perspective of early adoption stories from 20 years ago, they have been proven successful.

The Alternative Fuels Data Center (AFDC) provides an extensive list of federal laws and incentives correlated with alternative vehicles and advanced fuel technologies as well as incentives through Clean Cities Financial Opportunities that may alleviate the cost of alternative fuels and AFVs. For instance, electricity is significantly cheaper than gasoline because it can be produced domestically which, in turn, can lead to considerable savings. Aside from electricity, another alternative fuel, compressed natural gas (CNG), has become more widely available across the U.S. Whether your decision for change takes the form of an electric vehicle or renewable diesel for heavy-duty vehicles, all alternative options are viable nowadays. Major interstates are boasting alternative fuel corridors that are planned and are being built for alternative fueling stations and the time has never been better to make the switch.

Alternative fuels are no longer the fuels of the future, but the fuels of today. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vulnerable the U.S. and Utah are, in regard to fuels. This experience stresses the importance of being able to produce our state-side and renewable fuel. The truth is: alternative & advanced fuel strategies have the capability to help Utah economically

Utah Clean Cities is here to support Utah economically through the use of alternative fuels by further benefiting job security in the transportation sector while creating fuel and economic independence. 

 

By Christopher Firmage, Utah Clean Cities