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Illinois Chamber on Midwest Hydrogen Coalition: 'It seems to be a bit muddied'

Article Republished By Javier Troconis

(The Center Square) – Illinois is joining the Midwest Hydrogen Coalition, Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently announced, but Todd Maisch, Illinois Chamber of Commerce president and CEO, argues that details are sparse.

According to a news release, the coalition agreement focuses on improving Illinois decarbonization efforts. The deal highlights decarbonization goals and promises to rely entirely on clean energy by 2050. Other states joining the coalition include Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana.

“I think that the skeptic in me says, ‘God, this sounds great; the impulse is great, but what the heck is it going to be,'” Maisch told The Center Square. “If they knew what was going to be, they would tell us in this press release.”

Pritzker said that by joining the coalition, Illinois will create “more clean energy sector jobs and lower carbon emissions in the manufacturing and transportation sectors across the state and region.”

According to the release, shifting to clean energy will happen by working with academic professionals and leaders in the industry, engaging the community and leveraging colleges and universities to lead in the research and development of “innovative clean energy technologies.” 

The release also states that investing in clean hydrogen is vital for decarbonizing the transportation, manufacturing and agriculture industries.

“There are a lot of businesses in which they believe that electric motors, for the foreseeable future, are simply not going to work for their product,” Maisch said. “So, think about combines; think about earth movers out in the field. They can’t shut down for two, three, four hours and have somebody bring out a generator and recharge an electric engine.”

Maisch said hydrogen power allows for a much longer and more powerful utilization that’s far superior to electric power. Suppose the hydrogen power plant becomes viable for an earth mover or a combine, it would quickly replace electric vehicles when they make them smaller and put them in smaller vehicles, he said.

“I think that they are correct in identifying hydrogen power as perhaps even an important energy resource that may in many ways leapfrog electric vehicles and become the next standard,” Maisch said. “Electric vehicles are getting a lot of attention, rightly so, but I really do believe that hydrogen-powered vehicles may be the thing that really replaces electric vehicles sooner than you may think.”

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