New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham prepares to sign an executive order, Albuquerque, March 10, 2022.

AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took another step Thursday to put New Mexico on the hydrogen map, signing an executive order she says will help establish a roadmap outlining clear that hydrogen will be a key focus of the state as it works to transform its energy economy.

The Democratic governor said she hopes the order will bring predictability to businesses and hopefully encourage more of them to choose to move to New Mexico.

The order directs his cabinet members to work together to seize opportunities to build a “green” hydrogen economy. It also calls for hydrogen to be included as a key sector for the state Department of Economic Development.

“I want this priority to get the attention it deserves over the next few days, weeks and months,” said Lujan Grisham.

The state is also working to develop recommendations for the federal government as part of a Rocky Mountain states effort to develop ways to make hydrogen more available and useful as a clean fuel for cars, trucks and the trains.

Lujan Grisham said there are also opportunities in aviation as he announced a $254 million investment by Universal Hydrogen Co. to build a manufacturing center in Albuquerque that will support its plans to modernize and fuel aircraft at hydrogen.

The company developed proprietary storage capsules that could be shipped from hydrogen production facilities to airports, where they could be loaded directly onto aircraft that were retrofitted with hydrogen-specific powertrains.

New Mexico is pledging $10 million in local economic development funds for the project, and the city of Albuquerque is considering providing additional funding.

Jon Gordon, co-founder and general counsel of Universal Hydrogen, said the company has agreements with 11 carriers to retrofit nearly 100 regional turboprop aircraft with the goal of being FAA-certified and in commercial service. here 2025.

Gordon told reporters it was also possible to develop modular refueling systems for large commercial aircraft as well as drones, industrial equipment and ground transportation.

Still, he called it a “chicken and egg problem,” explaining that the hydrogen market is in its infancy.

Hydrogen can be derived from water using an electric current and when burned emits only water vapor as a byproduct. Proponents said the fuel could theoretically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution, depending on how it is obtained.

Critics argue that as it is now produced, hydrogen is not green, carbon-free or unlimited. Currently, almost all of the hydrogen commercially produced in the United States comes not from water but from natural gas, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

This debate reached a boiling point during New Mexico’s recent legislative session, as environmentalists lobbied against a number of proposed incentives.

Lujan Grisham acknowledged their concerns on Thursday.

“I guess there isn’t a single person in this room who doesn’t wish that we didn’t need a transition of any kind, that it would be very easy if technology and innovations were immediate It’s not,” she said, adding that her administration will continue to try to attract companies with the “lowest carbon intensity possible.”

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