During the Center for Automotive Research Seminars in Traverse City, MICHauto convened industry, education, and government leaders to discuss how Michigan can strengthen its strategy to receive a portion of the $8 billion set aside in 2021’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for hydrogen research, development, and production.
Utilize Michigan’s Vast Ports to Facilitate Hydrogen Transportation
Reuben Sarkar from the American Mobility Center opened the conversation by noting that clean energy options are not limited to just battery and electric power. He offered that a good starting point is leveraging how well we can facilitate hydrogen transportation as an aggregate from Detroit to Kentucky via our numerous ports. Sarkar further warned if Michigan doesn’t form a game plan for attracting hydrogen production investments, it will be looked over in favor of other states already preparing to apply for the funds. He suggested the need to develop a state-wide strategy incorporating a compelling narrative about why Michigan is the best candidate.
Zach Kolodin from Gov. Whitmer’s office shared that the state has reached a similar conclusion that transportation is the most compelling narrative. He said we could increase our chances by focusing on existing projects in development that the state can create policy and financial support for.
Sarkar emphasized that Michigan’s ports are an asset because of their potential to be an inter-mobile freight clearing house for rail, boats, and trucks.
Kolodin added Michigan is uniquely positioned to speak to all different parts of the transportation ecosystem because of its international airport, strategically located ports, international border crossing, and OEMs.
Create Incentives for Companies with Transportation and Logistics Solutions
The group agreed that critical move to enhance Michigan’s chances of becoming a hydrogen hub would be getting insight from transportation and logistics companies who can speak to the key corridors and provide numbers. But first, they will need an incentive to participate.
Sarkar said the companies interested in pursuing hydrogen are still seeking one legal entity to be the applicant for the region that everyone is convening with, not to create competition within the same area.
When asked if Michigan has considered entering a memorandum of understanding with other states, Kolodin theorized, “This MOU would create amichauto-convenes-government-industry-and-education-leaders-to-discuss-michigans-potential-t framework for bringing and supporting hydrogen in the region while providing a communications platform for the state to market itself as a place to attract investment.”
Glenn Stevens Jr. from MICHauto agreed, saying that businesses will be attracted to investing in a region with a focused commitment to hydrogen and a body that ties it together.
Misty Matthews from FORVIA shared that her company is working with the state to get funding for a $20 million R&D facility for hydrogen tanks that would bring at least 80 high-wage, high-skilled engineering jobs to Michigan.
Kolodin closed the conversation by citing New Mexico’s new hydrogen production tax credit bill and adding, “One thing that would help our hub application is if the Michigan legislature began to talk about supporting the hydrogen industry.”