Who were the big winners from US government's giant $750m hydrogen funding call?




Government estimates funding will support 10GW of annual electrolyser manufacturing capacity


The US Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday announced it would award $750m in grants to 52 hydrogen projects across 24 states in an effort to drive down the cost of producing H2.


More than 60% of the $750m available — applications for which were launched a year ago —was allocated to electrolyser and fuel cell manufacturing, with $316m going to eight electrolyser manufacturers and $150m to five projects scaling up fuel cell production.


Much of the electrolyser funding has gone towards the set-up of gigawatt-scale factories, with the government estimating that its funding will support 10GW of annual manufacturing capacity.


Plug Power was awarded $45.7m to scale up its electrolyser manufacturing capacity at its up-to-2.5GW site in Rochester, New York, as well as $30m for fuel cell manufacturing.


The firm is also set to receive $3.2m to research new proton exchange membranes (PEM) that do not use perfluorinated materials — a so-called “forever chemical” that is ubiquitous in current PEM electrolysers — and is also involved in six other newly government-funded projects as a partner.


Meanwhile, Nel has been allocated $50m from the federal government for a planned 4GW factory in Michigan, topped up by $25m in additional funding from the state government beyond the $50m it had already promised.


However, the Norwegian electrolyser manufacturer has previously cautioned that a final investment decision on the facility would depend on sufficient demand from green hydrogen projects in the US, particularly since it is already scaling up existing production at Wallingford, Connecticut to 500MW of annual manufacturing capacity.


Nel has also been awarded $4.9m to fund research and development into alkaline exchange membranes, also known as anion exchange membranes (AEMs) at Wallingford.


Elsewhere, Bill Gates-backed start-up Electric Hydrogen was awarded $46.3m for new PEM electrolyser manufacturing processes at its new 1.2GW factory in Devens, Massachusetts, which is expected to start producing equipment this spring.


Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Nucera meanwhile has been allocated $50m for a mysterious “ScalumGW” project in Texas.


While the firm had not previously announced plans to set up new manufacturing capacity in the US, a spokesperson confirmed to Hydrogen Insight that it plans to set up an automated pilot assembly line that can be scaled to produce multiple gigawatts of alkaline electrolyser capacity per year.


Meanwhile, $17.9m went to Cummins for a project in Minnesota for subcomponent assembly for proton exchange membrane (PEM) stacks that would enable gigawatt-scale production at its existing plant in Minnesota.


Another $36.3m went to Utah-based solid-oxide electrolyser manufacturer OxEon Energy to automate its manufacturing; $39.6m to AEM electrolyser start-up Verdagy; and $30m to NexTech Materials for scaleup and demonstration of high-temperature electrolysis technology in Ohio.


Five fuel cell manufacturers were also promised $30m each for projects which the DOE predicts will scale up manufacturing capacity to 14GW a year: aforementioned Plug Power, Ballard Power Systems for a project in Texas, General Motors for a project in Michigan, Bosch for a project in South Carolina, and Nuvera Fuel Cells for a project in Massachusetts.


Meanwhile, $81m was awarded to ten projects to support the supply chain for electrolyser components, such as catalysts and membranes, and $82m to ten projects supporting the supply chain for fuel cells. Another $72m went toward 18 projects researching novel materials, components and designs for electrolysers.


A single electrolyser and fuel cell recycling research project led by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, with industrial partners including General Motors, Plug Power, Nel, and Johnson Matthey, received $50m.


The $750m in federal funding is expected to be matched by private investment, bringing the total spend on the US hydrogen sector to $1.6bn.


“The Biden-Harris Administration is propelling an American-led clean hydrogen economy that is delivering good-paying, high-quality jobs and accelerating a manufacturing renaissance in communities across America,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm.


“The projects announced today — funded by the President’s Investing in America agenda — will supercharge our progress and ensure our leadership in clean hydrogen will be felt across the nation for generations to come.”



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