Electrolyser maker Thyssenkrupp Nucera more than trebles annual profits — a rare feat in today's hydrogen sector
However, the company is expecting a substantial operating loss next year as it expands manufacturing facilities
German electrolyser maker Thyssenkrupp Nucera has increased its annual net profits by 272% year-on-year, largely on the back of sales made to the 2GW Neom green hydrogen project in Saudi Arabia.
Net income rose from €6m to €22.5m ($24.6m) in the financial year 2022-23, which ended on 30 September, solidifying the German company’s status as one of the world’s few profitable electrolyser businesses.
However, Nucera, which only listed its shares in July this year, says its expansion plans will likely lead to a loss next year in the “mid-double-digit million euro range”.
The company — which was previously a joint venture between German industrial conglomerate Thyssenkrupp and Italian electrode maker De Nora known as Thyssenkrupp Uhde Chlorine Engineers (due to its previous focus on chlor-alkali electrolysis) — plans to increase its hydrogen electrolyser capacity from 1GW today to 5GW by the end of 2025-26.
Sales of its alkaline water electrolysers (AWE) increased more than sixfold from €50.7m to €323.2m as it began delivering machines to Neom and Shell’s 200MW Hydrogen Holland 1 project in the Netherlands.
And indeed, the company expects “significant sales growth in the mid-double-digit percentage range” in the next financial year, “mainly driven by the execution of previously contractually agreed projects in the AWE area”.
However, the company’s order backlog has shrunk 5% — from $1.46bn to $1.28bn — as the size of incoming orders, such as the 700MW booked by H2 Green Steel, are smaller than fulfilled orders from Neom, Shell and others.
Indeed, Nucera said in August that it was “actively pursuing” 12GW of sales worth €6bn.
“Sales and profits have developed very positively and offer us a good starting position for the growth program and the further development of the company,” said Nucera CEO Werner Ponikwar. “We will continue to drive our business forward and take and systematically implement the necessary operational and strategic measures.”
The company’s initial public offering (IPO) in July raised €513m, the results show, and the strong cash position generated €11m in interest alone, largely offsetting the €12m it paid in taxes.
Chief financial officer Arno Pfannschmidt added: “Our IPO has further strengthened our good financial position. Thyssenkrupp Nucera is very well positioned financially to consistently seize entrepreneurial opportunities, especially in the global growth market for green hydrogen, and thus further expand our market position.”
However, the company states: “Due to the necessary start-up costs for the implementation of the growth strategy and the scaling of the AWE business for the long-term and sustainable improvement of competitiveness and profitability, a negative EBIT [earnings before interest and taxes] figure in the mid-double-digit EUR million range is expected.”
Nucera's chlor-alkali business, which produces electrolysers that split salt water into chlorine and caustic soda, is also doing well, although it did not grow year-on-year. Sales fell slightly from €332.4m in 2021-22 to €329.6m in 2022-23, although this was still higher than the €323.2m registed in its AWE division.