Hydrogen fuel cell trucks
Kenworth hydrogen fuel cell trucks at the Port of Los Angeles. Courtesy Kenworth

Gov. Gavin Newsom has called for the development of a hydrogen economy in California to support the state’s renewable energy future.

Newsom announced Tuesday he has directed his Office of Business and Economic Development to create a strategy for a renewable hydrogen market similar to the existing state strategy for encouraging use of zero-emission vehicles.

“California is all in on clean, renewable hydrogen — an essential aspect of how we’ll power our future and cut pollution,” said Newsom. “This strategy will lay out the pathway for building a robust hydrogen market to help us fully embrace this source of clean energy.”

Hydrogen, which is the most abundant element in the universe, can be extracted from water with solar power and delivered via existing natural gas pipelines.

There is already a growing market in California for vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells, which create electricity though a chemical reaction that releases only water as a byproduct.

SoCalGas, a unit of San Diego’s Sempra, applauded Newsom’s announcement on Wednesday.

“Clean, renewable hydrogen will play a critical role in reaching California’s ambitious climate goals. California leads the nation in clean energy innovation, and SoCalGas will continue to support those efforts by leveraging its skilled workforce and infrastructure to help the state achieve net-zero emissions,” said SoCalGas President Maryam Brown.

California is currently competing to become a federally funded “Hydrogen Hub,” a program that will leverage $8 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to establish at least four Hydrogen Hubs across the United States.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.