Hempstead expanding hydrogen technologies at energy park

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin, at lectern, gathered with National Grid and other town officials in December to announce the expansion of hydrogen-fueling technologies at its Net Zero Energy Park in Point Lookout. // Courtesy Hempstead Town

By Annabel Hofmann and Ashley Bassick

Town of Hempstead Supervisor Don Clavin announced in December that the town and National Grid were partnering to construct a hydrogen-blending station at Hempstead’s Net Zero Energy Park in Point Lookout, which is to mix hydrogen with natural gas to help heat Long Island homes with less greenhouse gas emissions.

Hydrogen does not emit carbon dioxide or other GHGs when burned. By blending hydrogen and natural gas, the new station will enable homes to reduce their carbon footprints. Natural gas does emit greenhouse gases, but in smaller amounts than “dirtier” fossil fuels such as coal and oil.

The new mixing station, which is known as HyGrid and is set for completion in 2023, is expected to become among the largest such stations in the nation, town and National Grid officials said.    

National Grid, the energy company behind HyGrid, said the project would help New York State meet its long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions by 85 percent over the long term, as outlined in the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act of 2019, according to Tara Schneider-Moran, Hempstead Town’s senior conservation biologist, who recently met with Hofstra University Advanced Reporting students to discuss the project. 

HyGrid will have “a reduced emissions profile without any cost to the homeowner,” Schneider-Moran told the students in a press briefing by Zoom.

 “This project started back in the mid-2000s,” Schneider-Moran said. “We had the concept that we wanted to achieve zero emissions, and one of the interesting approaches we thought of was hydrogen.” 

When complete, the HyGrid project will add to an already existing hydrogen-fueling station at the energy park, which was built in 2009 and is used to fuel vehicles. It was the first such station on Long Island, and it is powered by a 10-story wind turbine at the energy park.

The blending station project is tentatively expected to be finished within a year, but supply-chain issues have slowed progress, Schneider-Moran said.

She also said education and outreach will be needed to inform local officials and residents about the project’s fine details. Code officials and firefighters, for example, must be taught new protocols and procedures to handle hydrogen, which they may not have dealt with before.

“Prepping all the entities that would be involved in this new type of technology is important,” Schneider-Moran said. 

Casey Sammon, a Town of Hempstead communications staff member, also took part in the Zoom call and encouraged residents to “come and get a better understanding of how the project works.”