Hydrogen fuel cell sector advances as world's largest electrolyzer manufacturing plant goes into construction

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Hydrogen fuel cell sector advances as world's largest electrolyzer manufacturing plant goes into construction

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Nel ASA has announced that it has begun construction of the world’s largest electrolyzer manufacturing plant. The plant will be constructed as an extension of the company's current facility at Notodden, Norway, with total planned investments of around NOK150 million (~US$18 million).

The total development will have a name plate capacity of 360 MW/year, approximately ten times the current annual production capacity. It will be fully automated and able to deliver the most efficient electrolyzers at a competitive cost.

This has the potential to transform renewable hydrogen, currently distinguished from other renewable energy sources as a niche product. Nel believes that making the technology available in this affordable, efficient way will enable it to outcompete unsustainable fossil alternatives, such as natural gas reforming.

In 2018 the Notodden facility was expanded from a production capacity of 25 to 40 MW/year, through debottlenecking and optimizing the existing plant.

After the first stage expansion, Nel was awarded a contract for the delivery of 448 electrolyzers to Nikola as part of Nikola's development of a hydrogen station infrastructure in the USA for trucks and passenger vehicles. Under the multi-billion NOK contract, Nel will deliver up to 1 GW of electrolysis plus fueling equipment.

When fully expanded, optimized and upgraded, the new Notodden facility will be able to deliver up to 360 MW worth of electrolyzers per year at a five-shift operation, representing more than 160 A485 units per year. It is scheduled to be operational in early 2020.

Nikola and Nel announced late 2017 an exclusive partnership aimed at developing low-cost, renewable hydrogen production and fueling sites as part of a nationwide network of hydrogen stations, supporting Nikola’s vision of replacing the current fleet of diesel trucks in America with zero-emission hydrogen trucks.

The contract includes an initial order for a pre-engineering package of around US$1.5 million, where Nel will develop a station design, including electrolyzers, specifically made for fast fueling of Nikola trucks. Nel is currently working, in collaboration with Nikola, to finalize the detailed station design and other technology elements to be deployed for the commercial stations.

In May this year, Nikola announced that Anheuser-Busch, an American brewing company, had placed an order for up to 800 Hydrogen-Electric Powered Semi-Trucks. To support this fleet, Nikola and Nel would need to deploy around 28 stations. This order volume alone will have a revenue potential for Nel of more than US$500 million.

The 28 stations will be installed on each route outside of Anheuser-Busch’s breweries or their distribution centers, creating the largest network of hydrogen in the world.

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