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The H2theFuture proposal includes safeguards ensuring that business, procurement and training opportunities are made available to all stakeholders and communities. Ørsted image

LA - Louisiana coalition to build offshore wind powered hydrogen energy cluster

A groundbreaking plan to create an offshore wind-powered hydrogen energy industry cluster in south Louisiana has been awarded $50 million from the Build Back Better Challenge, the U.S. Economic Development Administration announced earlier this month. H2theFuture, which will create a wind-powered hydrogen industry cluster in south Louisiana, won an EDA Build Back Better Challenge award.

The project is among 21 — out of 529 submissions and 60 finalists — to be selected for funding through the 2021 American Rescue Plan competitive grant program. The $1 billion BBB initiative is described by the Commerce Department as “the most impactful regional economic development competition in decades.” The program seeks to boost economic recovery and rebuild communities through transformative investments in regional industry clusters. The winning Louisiana proposal — led by Greater New Orleans Inc. and its affiliate the Greater New Orleans Development Foundation — creates a roadmap for decarbonizing Louisiana’s manufacturing sector while creating new energy jobs.

The federal grant will be supplemented by $24.5 million in matching funds from the State of Louisiana, bringing the total project size to $74.5 million.

“Today’s announcement by President Biden and Secretary of Commerce Raimondo is a significant milestone in Louisiana’s transition to a cleaner, more sustainable and more diversified energy future,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a statement announcing the award. “As the first state in the Gulf South to implement a Climate Action Plan, Louisiana has demonstrated the vision and leadership required to meet the historic challenge that climate change represents. This infusion of federal and state dollars, on top of the nearly $20 billion of private capital investment in Louisiana emissions reduction projects announced in the last two years alone, moves us closer to the ultimate goal: net zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

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The H2theFuture proposal includes safeguards ensuring that business, procurement and training opportunities are made available to all stakeholders and communities. The plan also prioritizes protecting legacy energy industry workers through the creation of retraining programs that will convert traditional skill sets to low-carbon processes.

“Since day one, President Biden has been laser-focused on ensuring that economic opportunity is delivered to all Americans, especially communities that have grappled with decades of disinvestment or suffered economic distress exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “As we invest and grow critical industries in the U.S., we want to create industry hubs in diverse communities across the country. These grants will provide critical and historic funding directly to community coalitions to invest in new infrastructure, research and development, and workforce development programs while creating good-paying jobs, supporting workers, and prioritizing equity.”

H2theFuture would effectively create a new clean energy business model in Louisiana, consisting of five interconnected workstreams:

• Workforce training (H2W) to “upskill” displaced oil and gas workers, rural residents and minorities, led by the Louisiana Community & Technical College System.

• Business development (H2BD) to attract new and existing local and regional energy companies into the hydrogen value chain, led by the Baton Rouge Area Chamber, in partnership with One Acadiana, South Louisiana Economic Council, Southwest Louisiana Economic Alliance and GNO Inc.

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