Norwegian hydrogen company Nel Hydrogen will establish an automated gigawatt electrolyzer manufacturing facility in Michigan, the company announced at the 2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit in Maryland. The project is expected to generate a total capital investment of up to $400 million and create more than 500 clean energy manufacturing jobs.
“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,” said Nel CEO Håkon Volldal. “I will also highlight the personal engagement from Governor Whitmer and her competent and service-minded team.”
The company cited the short distance to collaboration partner General Motors, headquartered in Detroit, as an additional deciding factor in the choice of Michigan. The two companies collaborated to develop further and improve Nel’s PEM electrolyzer technology.
Over the past year, Nel assessed a wide range of states for the location of its new manufacturing facility, before choosing Michigan for the project. Governor Gretchen Whitmer met with executives from Nel during her January 2023 investment mission to Norway and Switzerland.
Nel is still evaluating locations in Michigan for the new gigafactory, which will be the first facility in the U.S. to manufacture equipment for the production of liquid alkaline electrolysis. Through electrolysis, hydrogen can be produced from water and renewable energy. Hydrogen, the most abundant and lightest element in the universe, can play a significant role in accelerating Michigan’s clean-energy transition away from fossil fuels.
“We’re thrilled to bring home an up to $400 million investment from Nel Hydrogen creating more than 500 good-paying, clean energy jobs right here in Michigan,” said Gov. Whitmer. “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,” she continued. “Let’s keep competing with anyone and working with everyone to bring home transformational investments in manufacturing so we can spur economic growth and create good-paying jobs right here in Michigan.”
The gigafactory will be built in steps to match supply with demand. When fully developed, the Michigan facility will have a production capacity of up to 4GW of Alkaline and PEM electrolyzers. At 90 percent capacity, the facility will support approximately 1.4 million cars on a regular basis. Going forward, Nel will build on its fully automated Alkaline manufacturing concept invented at Herøya in Norway.
“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,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “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.”
Nel specializes in electrolyzer technology for production of renewable hydrogen and hydrogen fueling equipment for road-based vehicles. Nel’s product offerings are key enablers for a green hydrogen economy, making it possible to decarbonize various industries such as transportation, refining steel and ammonia.
This project helps to meet goals laid out in Gov. Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan. Announced in April 2022, the plan is a roadmap for Michigan to achieve economy-wide carbon neutrality by 2050 with interim 2030 goals. The MI Healthy Climate Plan proposes climate action that would create tens of thousands of clean-energy jobs, spur economic development and innovation, protect clean air and water, and improve public health.
Last fall Michigan announced it would be among seven Midwestern states teaming up to accelerate the development of hydrogen as a clean-energy alternative; the Midwestern Hydrogen Coalition partners Michigan with Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin to collaborate on clean hydrogen development.
“We are thrilled to be welcoming this significant investment by Nel Hydrogen as we continue to position Michigan as a leader in clean technology while highlighting our state as a climate winner,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and President and Chair of the Michigan Strategic Fund. “Governor Whitmer’s recent trip to Norway was critical in securing this tremendous investment in Michigan’s clean energy future. We are grateful for the ongoing legislative support of economic development programs that supported this opportunity. Today’s announcement demonstrates Michigan’s culture of innovation and commitment to providing creative solutions that make a tangible difference in the lives of our friends and neighbors.”
“The road to advanced mobility and a clean-energy future goes through the Detroit Region,” said Maureen Donohue Krauss, president and CEO, Detroit Regional Partnership. “Hydrogen is playing a major role in redefining how the world moves and Nel is at the forefront of that evolution. Attracting such a global innovator in this rapidly emerging, cutting-edge industry speaks volumes about the talent and advanced manufacturing in our region.”