Mike Dunleavy: Alaska’s map to clean hydrogen leadership



Alaska, at the Northwest corner of the U.S., and hydrogen, at the top left of the periodic table, share more than a common location on their respective charts. Global energy consumption is forecast to grow 50% by 2050, and hydrogen from Alaska can provide solutions to the world’s energy and climate needs for decades.

Hydrogen demand is set to skyrocket. Alaska is in a great position to accelerate commercial-scale clean hydrogen production and capture an outsized portion of the market.

Hydrogen demand is driven by its energy and environmental advantages. Hydrogen is an abundant, energy-rich element with the highest energy mass of any fuel. We’ll never run out of hydrogen. Burning hydrogen to generate energy produces zero carbon and emits only harmless water and air.

Hydrogen energy is described more at this Department of Energy website.

Because of these advantages, policymakers are providing powerful incentives to spur the creation of a clean hydrogen energy industry. The 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Act, passed with the support of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, includes up to $7 billion to establish six to 10 regional clean hydrogen hubs across America, and Alaska has everything going for it in this competition.

Expanding economies and populations in Asia are driving growing energy needs. Developed nations like Japan and South Korea are banking on hydrogen to meet 2050 net-zero carbon targets. These nations are our strongest allies in the region and have deep trade ties to Alaska due to our close proximity.

Japan’s long-term strategy is to create a complete, end-to-end hydrogen ecosystem, including “a global supply chain and constructing onsite storage facilities in Japan.” Mitsubishi Corporation and TOYO Engineering Corporation, two leading Japanese energy companies, are already working in Alaska with the state’s Alaska Gasline Development Corporation and Hilcorp to evaluate the commercial feasibility of producing clean hydrogen in the form of carbon-free ammonia. Similarly, South Korea is ramping up demand for hydrogen from 130,000 tons per year in 2018 to an estimated 5.26 million tons in 2040.

Hydrogen is effectively stored and used in fuel cells, which contain more power in comparable space than electric batteries, making hydrogen “suited for airplanes or ships that have to carry energy supplies long distances,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ted Stevens International Airport in Anchorage is the second-largest air cargo hub in the world, strategically located between North America and Asia, positioning Alaska to have a major role in global decarbonization by fueling this vital supply route with hydrogen. Alaska is also home to strategic North Pacific military facilities, and the Defense Department, the world’s single largest institutional user of petroleum, is closely examining the long-term prospects for incorporating hydrogen fuel into military operations.

Alaska’s resources give us a major competitive advantage in the race to produce hydrogen. First, Alaska has an abundance of untapped natural gas. The North Slope reigns as one of the world’s great energy super basins in part because it contains 40 trillion cubic feet of developed and conventional, but stranded, natural gas.

Natural gas will not only enjoy decades of additional growth as a standalone clean energy source, but is also essential for producing clean hydrogen. The methane in natural gas is naturally rich in hydrogen, and natural gas accounts for 95% of U.S. hydrogen production today.

The Alaska LNG Project, with all major permits and authorizations in place, is poised to finally commercialize North Slope natural gas and is negotiating with developers and investors to complete engineering and begin construction.

Alaska LNG is already designed as one of the lowest-emissions LNG projects in the world. Further environmental benefits will be unlocked when Alaska LNG natural gas is used to produce hydrogen. By safely capturing and storing the carbon released in this process, the carbon intensity of hydrogen production is negligible. The Alaska LNG terminal will be located in Cook Inlet, which features geology capable of storing 50 gigatons of carbon, the highest capacity of any location on the U.S. West Coast according to scientists. For perspective, 50 gigatons is the equivalent of several decades of carbon emissions from the entire nation of Japan.

Establishing ourselves as an early dominant hydrogen provider ensures we will have the infrastructure, knowledge, and market acumen to also use renewables like hydropower, tidal, and wind to produce hydrogen as technology matures and scales. These resources are more plentiful in Alaska than any other region of the U.S., and tapping them gives Alaska the opportunity for a diversified, world-leading hydrogen portfolio.

But perhaps our most potent advantage in the shifting energy landscape is our people. Alaska is home to a highly trained energy workforce committed to some of the toughest environmental standards in the world. For generations, Alaskans have thrived by using our resources responsibly and sustainably.

Alaska has been an energy leader, fueling America’s economy for decades. Alaska has what it takes to become a global hydrogen powerhouse and lead the world into a new clean energy era.

Mike Dunleavy is Alaska’s 12th governor who began his first term of office in December 2018. 


  1. There is just one little problem with your pipedream here, Governor Dunleavy: hydrogen is NOT, and cannot be, a primary source of energy. As it does not occur in the free, elemental state on earth, it must first be chemically liberated from some other substance (usually water), a process which requires a great deal of energy — more energy than could be gained by the burning of it. As such, hydrogen could potentially be a fuel, but will never be a source of energy.
    And if anyone is confused by this, then your scientific ignorance is so profound that it would probably be impossible to try to fully explain the reality of the situation to you.

    • Jefferson, let’s examine your statement, Hydrogen isn’t a free floating element, O.K. but let’s remember that it can be produced by Electrolysis, where an electric current splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. So all one needs is water and Electrical Power, where do we have an abundance of both? Southeast Alaska! Hydro potential up the proverbial wazoo what with all that Snow and Rain and did I mention WATER! Water makes transport of products much cheaper too. I applaud Big Mike if he is actually on to this. Good for you Guv! Let’s do this!

      • Instead of Hydropower I prefer the use of Geothermal Energy for the power supply for producing electrolysis derived Hydrogen.
        Geothermal Energy in the form of the many isolated island volcano systems in the Aleutian Chain “Ring of Fire”. Let the enormous power of Earths’ constantly moving tectonic plates do the work. Then a tanker fleet will be developed to deliver Hydrogen to the entire Pacific Rim. The byproduct of electrolysis contains gold, silver, and many other strategic minerals.
        Natural Gas can be processed into Hydrogen by depleting a portion of its total fuel content during the process. Its potentially an inefficient but profitable enterprise. The key is how to sequester the Carbon – wouldn’t it be great if we make a useful compound with it instead of injecting it back into the ground with unknown cumulative effects.

      • Yes, Robert, I already addressed those elementary points regarding hydrogen. And again, I will repeat that despite the insinuations of Governor Dunleavy here, hydrogen is NOT and can NOT be a primary sources of energy, as are fossil fuels or even wood. That electrolysis of which you speak consumes more energy than can be liberated by the burning of the hydrogen thereby produced — that is a simple law of chemistry and physics. But Dunleavy repeatedly insinuates here that hydrogen can somehow be a primary source of energy, which is wrong and untrue. As such, I condemn his misleading and/or scientifically ignorant statements.

    • Jefferson, there are very few “primary” sources of energy. To name a few, the sun, geothermal, rotation of the earth (tidal, wind, etc). If hydrogen is isolated by use of hydroelectricity then it is merely being converted from a kinetic energy source to a potential source (hydrogen cells). As you know, anytime energy is converted, some is lost. Mankind uses primarily secondary sources of energy. We must put value on the convenience of portability of hydrogen cells vs electric battery recharging.

  2. Give me a nuclear reactor in Bethel and you’ll be not only rid of a quarter of the people dependent on PCE, but you’ll have the cheap electric source necessary to mine hydrogen from H2O.

  3. Good Job Mike! Keeping thinking BIG and let’s find a way to get these epic energy – infrastructure projects underway quickly, putting Alaskans to work, generating economic opportunities for Alaskan businesses, and providing much needed royalties to the State of AK.
    Let’s … Git-R-Done Big Mike!!!

    • Nothing happens fast with all the red tape. I can’t pee on the road without ten years of permitting process. Good luck to all you clean energy losers

  4. Dunleavy is either a genius or an idiot!?
    A look back over his record and reputation, will lead you to conclude the later! Big , tall , and empty . BTE

  5. Let’s see… North Slope gas is stranded, but if we use it to produce hydrogen, the hydrogen will become unstranded? Bill Walker selling the gas to Asia was bad, but Mike Dunleavy selling the hydrogen to Asia is good? Next, Big Mike will tell us that hydrogen is safe and effective, like something else recently. Until you remember the Hindenburg disaster.

  6. I appreciate the leadership in providing a theoretical direction away from wind and solar as the primary potential alternative fuel/energy sources when oil/gas become infeasible. It makes me sick to think landscapes covered in windmills and solar panels ironically purported to save the landscape they destroyed. However, if all these Alaskan opportunities with hydrogen power are realistic, it shouldn’t take huge government investment to get it going. Let’s not get crazy and create some new set of political spending boondoggles. For example, funding a union pipeline training center almost 10 years ago in Fairbanks to help train a large workforce for a project that still hasn’t started. By the time we get around to actually building the gas pipeline, the unions will be asking for a new updated state-funded training center, and with all the union bought-and-paid-for lobbyists… errr… legislators (Merrick, Bishop, Fields, etc., etc..), they’ll get it! Private sector interest and investment will be the driving force behind a successful project, not government – and especially not politicians. Stick to your conservative foundations Governor!

  7. It currently costs about $5 to produce 1kg of hydrogen that can be stored and used as energy. The amount of fuel necessary to provide the same energy as 1kg of hydrogen is 0.00017 million cubic feet of natural gas, or 0.0211 barrels of crude oil, or .992 gallons of conventional gasoline, or 0.896 gallons of conventional diesel. Ironically, the #1 top consumers of currently produced hydrogen fuel are petroleum refineries.

  8. The amount of opportunities that have been missed or done half assed in Alaska is amazing.

    The can do state has become the can’t do state. It’s actually depressing to think about.

    If you live in another state and you need advice how to destroy yourselves just give us a call.

  9. What is amazing is that there is a great source of geothermal energy within sight of Anchorage, at the base of Mt Redoubt. In Iceland they realized this potential years ago. I applaud the Governor’s forward thinking.

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