Nel Hydrogen announced plans on Wednesday to build a new plant in Michigan, cooperating with General Motors to make hydrogen a cheaper, greener energy source.
Nel Hydrogen, a Norwegian company, makes electrolyzers, devices which split water into hydrogen and oxygen. General Motors wants to make vehicles which can run on hydrogen fuel cells, as well as use the technology for other purposes. Fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles that instead of relying on lithium ion batteries, depend on the chemical energy of hydrogen. But the problem with trying to use hydrogen as fuel is the vast amount of energy it takes to split the water. Michigan, home of the vehicle industry in America, runs on 60% coal and natural gas energy, 40% nuclear and renewable.
Hydrogen that is produced using electricity from a grid powered by renewable energy, such as wind and solar, can cost about $5 per kilogram, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. That’s driven largely by the cost of electricity so it can vary widely by location. Most hydrogen today is not this type and does contribute to climate change because it is made from natural gas. It costs far less, about $1 to $2 per kilogram to produce. The DOE set a goal to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen to $1 per kilogram in a decade.
Nel Hydrogen has worked with the United States Department of Energy for almost twenty years, and are part of a large initiative to make renewable energy and hydrogen energy available at the consumer level. They’re an important part of any net-zero goals.
“We are proud to see the impact in manufacturing, job creation and clean energy on the grid with products stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.’, and in this case, ‘Made in Michigan,’” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement Wednesday.