UK plans $95 million hydrogen gigafactory to produce components for vehicles

A sign for a hydrogen fuel pump at a train refueling station in Germany. Hydrogen has a wide variety of applications and can be used in many industries.

christian boxy | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A UK-headquartered firm said on Monday it was building an £80 million ($95.9 million) “Gigafactory” specializing in the manufacture of hydrogen fuel cell components, with operations planned to begin in the first half of 2024. .

In a statement, the London-listed johnson matthe stated that the facility in Royston, England, will be capable of producing 3 gigawatts per year of proton exchange membrane fuel cell components. US government says polymer electrolyte membranes also known as fuel cells PEM fuel cells in automobiles “use hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to generate electricity.” PEM fuel cells are made of many different materials.

The idea is that the components will be used by hydrogen vehicles, with the announcement mentioning road freight. Earlier reports about JM’s plans for the Hydrogen Gigafactory were published by The Sunday Times in November 2021.

Johnson Matthey’s plans have received support from the UK government through the Center for Advanced Propulsion’s Automotive Transformation Fund, a funding program focused on large-scale industrialization.

The idea behind fuel cell vehicles is that hydrogen from a tank combines with oxygen to produce electricity. Fuel cell vehicles emit “only water vapor and hot air,” according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center.

In its announcement on Monday, the Center for Advanced Propulsion said it was predicting that demand for UK fuel cells would be around 10 GW by 2030, rising to 14 GW by the year 2035. It added, “would be the equivalent of 140,000 vehicles.”

APC stated that fuel cell vehicles were “as fast to refuel as a standard combustion engine and have a range and power density to rival diesel engines.” This made them “perfect for heavy duty applications” such as heavy goods vehicles, or HGVs.

“Decarbonizing freight transportation is critical to helping societies and industries meet their ambitious net zero emissions targets – fuel cells will be an important part of the energy transition,” said Liam Condon, chief executive of Johnson Matthey.

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JM Hydrogen is one of several firms working on technology related to fuel cell vehicles. At the end of June, Tevva, another company based in the UK, Launched a hydrogen-electric heavy goods vehicle.

In the same month Volvo Trucks announced that it had started To test vehicles that use “fuel cells powered by hydrogen” The Swedish firm said their range could increase to a little over 1,000 kilometers, or 621 miles.

While some are excited about the potential of fuel cell vehicles in the coming years, their current market share is small compared to battery electric vehicles.

According to the International Energy Agency’s Global Electric Vehicle Outlook 2022 report, the world’s fuel cell electric vehicle stock in 2021 was around 51,600.

The IEA says that electric vehicle sales – that is, sales of battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles – will reach 6.6 million in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, EV sales reached 2 million, a 75% increase compared to the first three. Months of 2021.