DOE Announces Support for Plug Power Hydrogen Production Sites

The U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE) announced it was preparing to make as much as a $1.66 billion loan guarantee to Latham, New York-based Plug Power, with the money earmarked for construction of as many as six clean hydrogen facilities across the U.S.

The DOE on May 14 said the funds were part of a conditional commitment to Plug Power. The Biden administration has made support for hydrogen production from clean energy sources—known as green hydrogen—a focus of its energy program. Most hydrogen is known as gray hydrogen, which is produced from fossil fuels including natural gas. Green hydrogen is produced using electricity from renewable energy resources such as solar and wind.

Plug Power develops hydrogen fuel cell systems that replace conventional batteries in equipment and vehicles powered by electricity.

Key for Decarbonization

“Green hydrogen is an essential driver of industrial decarbonization in the United States,” said Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh. “Earlier this year, Plug successfully demonstrated our innovation and technical ability by launching the first commercial-scale green hydrogen plant in the country in Woodbine, Georgia. This loan guarantee will help us build on that success with additional green hydrogen plants.”

Marsh said, “We appreciate the partnership with the DOE Loan Programs Office and are pleased to have worked through an intensive due diligence process. The loan guarantee will prove instrumental to grow and scale not only Plug’s green hydrogen plant network, but the clean hydrogen industry in the United States.”

The Biden administration last year published a “National Clean Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap,” which referenced how the U.S. could produce as much as 10 million metric tons of green hydrogen annually by 2030. The target rises each year to 20 million metric tons by 2040, and 50 million metric tons annually by 2050.

The DOE last fall said it would supply $7 billion of funding to develop seven regional clean hydrogen hubs across the U.S. The hubs would support commercial-scale deployment of hydrogen. The money was included in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The seven hubs are expected to jointly produce about three million metric tons of hydrogen annually.

Hydrogen Production Network

Plug Power’s hydrogen production network includes plants in several states. It is among the top commercial-scale manufacturers of electrolyzers in the U.S., and operates the largest proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolyzer system in the U.S. at its Georgia hydrogen facility. Plug’s electrolyzer stacks are manufactured at the company’s factory in Rochester, New York. Plug’s liquefaction and hydrogen storage systems are engineered at its facility in Houston, Texas.

Electrolyzers use electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Plug’s PEM technology is designed to operate efficiently on electricity from renewable energy; electrolyzers that use renewables to electrify hydrogen production produce emissions-free clean hydrogen. Plug has said its electrolyzer stacks can be configured to produce systems at 1-, 5-, and 10-MW scales.

Plug Power has said its hydrogen fuel can be used in fuel cell-electric vehicles across several sectors, including transportation and industrial, and also material handling. Plug’s hydrogen fuel cells already are used by companies including Home Depot, Walmart, and Amazon, at those groups’ warehouse and distribution centers.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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