A US government plan for $1bn of subsidies for clean hydrogen users will be finalized by the end of September, the programme leader told the CERAWeek energy conference in Houston this week.

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Ernest Moniz, a controversial figure who was US energy secretary under President Barack Obama, was appointed by the Department of Energy in January to lead a consortium tasked with designing and implementing “demand-side support mechanisms for unlocking the market potential” of the seven Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs.

In other words, to ensure that the clean H2 produced at these hubs — which are backed with $7bn of government grants — is actually sold.

“We want the supply and delivery infrastructure and demand to work together in a way that builds markets, gets costs down, and ultimately allows the market to run with the hydrogen economy towards a low-carbon future,” Moniz told delegates on Tuesday.

The consortium, known as the Hydrogen Demand Initiative (H2DI) is currently considering the best ways to use the $1bn of funding, he said.

One potential model under consideration, Moniz continued, was a Contracts for Difference-style scheme — which could pay users the difference in cost between grey and clean hydrogen — although he did add that it might “not be the right match here”.

He also pointed out that $1bn was a “relatively modest budget”.

Moniz is a controversial figure for several reasons. He has been accused of accepting Big Oil funding while in charge of the MIT Energy Initiative and consequently producing dubious studies that backed climate inaction and fossil-fuel initiatives such as carbon capture and fracking, while ignoring warnings on methane emissions while in government.

His appearance in the 2022 BBC documentary, Big Oil v the World, which covered the fossil-fuel industry's climate denial campaigns of the 2000s and 2010s, implicated Moniz as part of the conspiracy, particularly when he refused to answer questions on the matter.

The H2DI consortium is led by Moniz’s EFI Foundation, and includes market intelligence firm S&P (which, incidentally, runs the CERAWeek conference), financial exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange, the MIT Energy Initiative and law firm Dentons.