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James (Jim) P. O'Brien

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James P. O’ Brien chairs the Firm’s Global Projects Practice Group, which includes over 225 lawyers working on the development, financing, and acquisition and sale of energy, mining, chemical and infrastructure projects. Jim is lead counsel in major project and infrastructure development and financing transactions such as power generation, chemical and waste recycling facilities. Both on behalf of project sponsors and lenders, Jim has led moving complex projects through development, project financing and operation. He has also been lead counsel on limited recourse project financings, using traditional bank debt, leveraged leases and Rule 144A capital markets issues. And during project development, he has successfully managed complex siting, permitting and transaction issues.

The strengthening partnerships between the United States and African countries is evident in recently announced initiatives that focus on sustainability and community empowerment and that provide reciprocal benefits for the citizens of both regions. Such initiatives include, for example, increased US support for climate, clean energy and infrastructure development projects in Africa, and programs that boost reciprocal trade and investment between the two regions.

An increasing number of countries have been unveiling their detailed legislative frameworks and extensive state support packages aimed at developing the hydrogen market in the context of the race to net zero. The US is not a new participant in this race. The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act allocated USD 9.5 billion for clean hydrogen. The Inflation Reduction Act signed into law in August 2022 provided additional policies and incentives for the development of the hydrogen market, including a production tax credit, which is aimed at boosting the US market for clean hydrogen. However, the US Department of Energy’s publication of a draft Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap (CHSR) takes the US government’s level of commitment to clean energy to the next level, as well as showing its willingness to work with existing and potential hydrogen market participants and other stakeholders to develop a framework that really works. This article examines the key provisions of the CHSR.

On 26 June 2022, US President Joe Biden together with G7 officially launched the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). G7 leaders pledged to raise USD 600 billion in private and public funds over five years to finance the required infrastructure in developing countries.
Based on the initial information available, the scope of the PGII is wide and includes tackling the climate crisis, bolstering global energy security, developing clean energy supply chains, strengthening cybersecurity and further developing digital and health infrastructure. It also focuses on gender equality and equity.

The ongoing shift in the Global Energy landscape has been accelerated by the firm commitment of many governments around the globe to decarbonise and achieve net zero, as well as, most recently, very significant geo-political developments. A number of new energy strategies have been launched by governments around the globe (most notably, in the EU, UK and USA) as well as new regulatory frameworks put into place to enable these strategies.

With global acknowledgement of the spiraling negative impact of carbon emissions on the planet, many countries are swiftly launching efficient, low-cost hydrogen-based solutions for the future mobility industry and have agreed to accelerate zero-emission vehicles at the recent COP26 conference. The goal is to have climate-friendly techniques on road vehicles, synthetic fuels and, for the aviation and maritime sectors, developing a hydrogen transport and distribution infrastructure, as well as expanding the network of hydrogen refueling stations.