For startups like Pajarito Powder, New Mexico provides fertile proving ground

Pajarito Powder is one of a handful of hydrogen-related businesses that have either grown from the national laboratory and university ecosystem within the state or found New Mexico an attractive place to set roots.

Economic development officials in New Mexico envision hydrogen-related businesses and deployments as a linchpin for growth in a state where the energy industry already holds importance. New Mexico ranks as the second-largest producer of crude oil in the United States, according to figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“We believe it takes an all-of-the-above approach, and we have all those assets and ecosystems in place,” said Melinda Allen, CEO of the New Mexico Partnership, a nonprofit that works with the state’s economic-development arm to recruit new business to the state. “Hydrogen fits right into our wheelhouse and capabilities.”

The state cemented its strategy in January, when it signed a memorandum of understanding with Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories to focus on hydrogen production, storage and utilization that “build the coalitions needed for launching new economies,” according to the agreement.

New Mexico expanded its hydrogen ambitions in February, when it joined Colorado, Wyoming and Utah to form the Western Inter-States Hydrogen Hub.

The group has applied for funding from the U.S. Energy Department for a hydrogen hub of producers, infrastructure providers and end users.

With Interstates 10, 25, 40, 70, 80 and 90 all touching at least one portion of that four-state region, those end users could be long-haul truckers. Freight movement, many anticipate, will be a primary spark for hydrogen’s appeal within transportation. Not just in the Intermountain West but across the globe, Stephenson said.

“You can’t solve transportation without solving trucking,” he said.

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