Biden administration offers $1 bln loan guarantee for hydrogen project

The Biden administration said on Thursday it has offered Monolith Nebraska LLC an up to $1.04 billion conditional loan guarantee for a project to make clean hydrogen, in its first use of an office that has tens of billions of dollars in financing.

The financing from the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) aims to help Monolith expand its Olive Creek plant to convert natural gas into hydrogen for making products like fertilizer. The plant will also make carbon black, a product used in making tires and other rubber products. The project aims to slash carbon emissions by cutting the use of fuel oil to make those products, the department said.

The LPO has more than $40 billion in financing for innovative energy projects that can help tackle climate change. Congress authorized LPO in 2005 amid concerns about domestic energy supplies. The administration of former President Donald Trump rarely used the LPO, besides financing for Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power plant.

“Advanced, clean production technology like Monolith’s are the types of impactful projects that support not just sustainability, but economic growth and clean energy jobs,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. The department estimated the loan guarantee, which requires several steps before becoming final, would create about 1,000 construction jobs, and 75 permanent positions.

Under the reins of director Jigar Shah, the LPO has now attracted more than 66 loan and loan guarantee applications, valued at more than $53 billion in clean energy and advanced vehicle technology projects, the LPO said.

The infrastructure law recently signed by President Joe Biden expanded LPO’s loan authority and broadened its pool of eligible borrowers.

Since its founding, the LPO has issued more than $35 billion in loans and loan guarantees, including to car and battery company Tesla Inc. But some Republicans have slammed the LPO for a $535 million loan to Solyndra, a failed solar company.

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