Hydrogen: Proving to be a Great Investment for SC
Industry is creating jobs & leveraging outside investments at a 10 to 1 ratio
(Columbia, SC) – Over the past few years, South Carolina has made significant advancements in growing our state’s knowledge-based economy. Particularly in the area of growing a hydrogen industry, South Carolina has become a national and international leader and that reputation is attracting companies looking to relocate or expand their services here.
“When we created the Centers of Economic Excellence (CoEE) to help grow our state’s knowledge-based economy, we did not know for certain what direction this public/private partnership would lead us,” said House Speaker Bobby Harrell. “Driven by industry investments and world-class scientists, hydrogen research took off and presented itself as a viable industry that could lead to a booming knowledge-based economy for South Carolina. And in just a short period of time, we have seen significant returns on this investment.”
The public/private investment in hydrogen has created 229 jobs in South Carolina. With 65% of those jobs being created in the last 5 years, this is proving to be a growing industry.
At the state level, we are doing a great job of managing our investment in hydrogen technologies and making sure the private sector drives this effort. Through direct state appropriations and support of the CoEE program, South Carolina has invested $12,292,911 in hydrogen over the past 5 years. And by conservative estimates, this has spurred well over $115 million in non-state investments. That means our state is leveraging its hydrogen investment dollars at a rate of more than 10 to 1.
Pursuing a knowledge-based economy and growing industries like hydrogen is crucial for our state’s economic future. Unemployment has recently spiked to 12%. Since 2003, the number of unemployed people in our state has increased by more than 100%. This has taken our state from once having the 3rd best unemployment rate in the nation to now having the 3rd worst.
“Our current economic development strategy of inaction needs to end, watching other states successfully attract new jobs and investments while our economic development leaders stand idly by is hurting jobless South Carolinians,” Speaker Harrell said. “If we are going to combat this 100% increase in unemployment, we must actively pursue new economic opportunities. Hydrogen has the potential to create the high-paying jobs of tomorrow by becoming the next economic engine driving our state’s knowledge-based economy.”
In 2005, ICF Consulting conducted a thorough statewide analysis of South Carolina’s hydrogen and fuel cell potential. The study determined that “this industry represented a significant knowledge-based market opportunity for the state.”
Most industry experts believe that the technology for affordable hydrogen powered vehicles is still far off. This is one of the main reasons that the Obama Administration proposed cutting the Federal funding for hydrogen vehicle research. However, many other uses for this technology are viable and are ready for real world application.
Bridgestone Firestone Manufacturing in Aiken is switching over its entire forklift fleet to run on more efficient and cost effective hydrogen fuel cells, the City of Columbia is backing up its emergency broadcast towers with longer lasting fuel cells, and ETV is using cameras that run on hydrogen power. These are just a few examples of the real world applications of hydrogen that are taking place in South Carolina today.
Speaker Harrell said. “Over the next few years, what you will see is a shift to hydrogen fuel cells replacing batteries, generators and being used to power more stationary machinery.”
To serve our expanding hydrogen needs, South Carolina recently opened its first two hydrogen fueling stations. The Aiken and Columbia stations were built with the aid of a $1,450,800 investment by the state. This state investment also leveraged $1,485,000 in outside investments, giving us a greater than 1:1 match for our money.
“The results we are seeing from our state’s investment in hydrogen are significant,” Speaker Harrell said. “In just the Midlands alone, we have seen a 60% return on investment. Most importantly, our partnership with over 40 companies means that the pursuit of this knowledge-based industry is being driven by the private sector.”
Harrell added, “The stage is set for South Carolina to use its foothold in the hydrogen industry to propel our state’s economy forward. The numbers prove that our investments have been positive and that this industry has been driven by the private sector. This is just further proof that South Carolina is headed in the right direction and should continue its efforts to grow a knowledge-based economy.”