Norwegian firm plans hydrogen component plant in Michigan

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md.–The Norwegian hydrogen technology developer Nel announced plans to build an electrolyzer manufaturing plant in Michigan.

The final location hasn’t been determined, but Nel announced that the plant would employ more than 500 people.

The announcement came at the SelectUSA Investment Sumit at Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo attended.

Electrolyzers use electricity to separate water into its component elements, hydrogen and oxygen.

“From Day One, the Biden Administration has been committed to revitalizing America’s manufacturing industry and combatting climate change by investing in clean energy technologies,” Raimondo said. “Today’s announcement at SelectUSA from Nel is helping us fulfill both of those goals, and building on Governor Whitmer’s work to make Michigan a leader in clean energy.”

“We’re thrilled to bring home up to $400 million in investment from Nel Hydrogen creating more than 500 good-paying, clean energy jobs in Michigan,” Whitmer said. “Earlier this year, I went on an economic mission to Europe to show the world what Michigan has to offer, and as a result of our efforts on the trip, we secured an investment from Nel to continue building on our leadership in cars, chips, and clean energy. As a major player in all three of these sectors, Michigan is serious about leading hydrogen development and winning today’s investment proves that the best manufacturing in the world happens right here in Michigan.”

Nel officials said they had assessed a wide range of states for the location of its new plant, and the company 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,” Nel CEO Håkon Volldal said. “I will also highlight the personal engagement from Governor Whitmer and her competent and service-minded team.”

Volldal emphasizes that the short distance to General Motors, headquartered in Detroit, has played a decisive role in the choice of state. The two companies 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 GM executive director of Hydrotech Charlie Freese. “This technology is critical in helping bring down costs, while also creating a more sustainable hydrogen supply.”

When fully developed, the Michigan planty will have a production capacity of up to 4 gigawatts of alkaline and PEM electrolyzers. Going forward, Nel will build on its fully automated alkaline manufacturing concept invented at Herøya in Norway. Similarly, the company’s expansion of the facility in Wallingford will play a critical role in creating a blueprint for scaling up the production of PEM electrolyzers.

Nel’s PEM electrolyzers 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,” Volldal said.

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