Nel, a Norwegian company that specializes in electrolyser technology for production of renewable hydrogen, and hydrogen fueling equipment for road-going vehicles, has unveiled plans to build a new automated gigawatt electrolyser manufacturing facility in Michigan.
When fully developed, the facility will employ more than 500 people and be among the largest electrolyser manufacturing plants in the world. The announcement was made at the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C.
Over the past year, Nel has assessed a wide range of states for the location of its new manufacturing facility, and the company has now concluded that Michigan is the best option.
“The choice of Michigan is based on an overall assessment of what the state can offer in terms of financial incentives, access to a highly skilled workforce, and cooperation with universities, research institutions, and strategic partners. I will also highlight the personal engagement from Governor Whitmer and her competent and service-minded team”, says Håkon Volldal, CEO of Nel.
The company has links with the state by entering into a joint development agreement with General Motors Co. in Detroit last year to help accelerate the industrialization of Nel’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyser platform. By combining GM’s fuel cell expertise and Nel’s knowledge of electrolysers, the two companies are looking to enable more cost competitive sources of renewable hydrogen.
Volldal says that the short distance to General Motors played a decisive role in the choice of state. The two companies continue to collaborate to develop further and improve Nel’s PEM electrolyser technology.
“Having Nel’s new facility close to our home base of HYDROTEC development, in southeastern Michigan, will help us more quickly accelerate our electrolyzer collaboration,” says Charlie Freese, executive director of HYDROTEC at GM. “This technology is critical in helping bring down costs, while also creating a more sustainable hydrogen supply.”
When fully developed, the Michigan facility will have a production capacity of up to 4GW of Alkaline and PEM electrolysers. Going forward, Nel will build on its fully automated Alkaline manufacturing concept invented at Herøya in Norway. Similarly, the company’s expansion of its facility in Wallingford, Conn., will play a critical role in creating a blueprint for scaling up the production of PEM electrolysers.
Nel’s PEM electrolysers have been developed through decades of support from the U.S. Department of Energy.
“Nearly two decades of research investment through the Department of Energy’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Office has led to technological advances that will now be transitioned to gigawatt scale in our Michigan facility,” says Volldal.
The factory will be built in steps to match supply with demand. A final investment will require a separate decision.