Biden administration funds to bring 500+ new Michigan jobs to hydrogen fuel ‘gigafactory’

Biden administration funds to bring 500+ new Michigan jobs to hydrogen fuel ‘gigafactory’

By Kyle Kaminski

March 25, 2024

A $50 million investment from President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help build a new hydrogen fuel factory in Plymouth. State officials said the project will solidify Michigan’s dominance in developing clean energy. 

MICHIGAN—Federal grant funding awarded this month through President Joe Biden’s administration is set to help build a new hydrogen fuel factory in Plymouth, create hundreds of new jobs, and further solidify Michigan as a national leader in the transition to clean energy. 

The US Department of Energy this month awarded $50 million in grants through Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help Nel Hydrogen build a new $400 million manufacturing facility in Plymouth. And with additional grant support through Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration, the yet-to-be-built facility is set to come along with more than 500 new jobs.

“The Biden-Harris Administration is propelling an American-led clean hydrogen economy that is delivering good-paying, high-quality jobs and accelerating a manufacturing renaissance in communities across America,” US Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.

Nel Hydrogen is a Norwegian company that specializes in automated gigawatt electrolyzers, devices which take water and split it into oxygen and hydrogen to be used as clean fuel for zero-emission vehicles. Whitmer first announced plans for the new factory last summer. Once complete, it’s expected to be among the largest electrolyzer manufacturing plants in the world.

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist, Nel Hydrogen CEO Håkon Volldal, and local and industry leaders gathered at Macomb Community College to announce the federal investment earlier this month.

“The support from the Department of Energy and the state is crucial for realizing our factory,” Volldal said. “It is encouraging to see the Department of Energy taking these strategic steps to stimulate a clean energy economy, and we appreciate their long-time support.”

Whitmer said she met with executives from Nel during a January “investment mission” to Norway and Switzerland, where she made the case for the company to expand into Michigan. 

Volldal said he picked Michigan for its universities and its “highly skilled workforce.” The short distance from General Motors’ operations—which has collaborated with the company in the past to develop its hydrogen technology—helped seal the deal, according to state officials. 

Nel’s upcoming expansion in Michigan will also make it the first company in the country to manufacture equipment for the production of liquid alkaline electrolysis, a process which enables hydrogen fuel to be produced from water through renewable energy sources.

“Building a hydrogen economy depends on the reliable supply of electrolyzers, so being home to the largest electrolyzer manufacturing facility in North America is a game-changer for our state that will create jobs, help us meet our healthy climate goals, and strengthen our economy,” said Zachary Koldin, chief infrastructure officer for the state of Michigan, said in a statement.

State officials have said that hydrogen—which is the most abundant and lightest element in the universe—will play a key role in Michigan’s clean-energy transition away from fossil fuels. 

Recent reports show Michigan now leads the nation in the rapid development of clean energy technology. And according to a new study from Atlas Policy, Michigan has collected more than $1.3 billion in federal funds to support at least 99 projects related to infrastructure and clean energy since the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act were signed into law.

In addition to creating more than 500 new jobs, the project from Nel also aligns neatly with Whitmer’s MI Healthy Climate Plan, which aims to make Michigan carbon-neutral by 2050—with other short-term goals geared toward reducing carbon emissions and developing clean energy.

The Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen was also awarded up to $1 billion in federal funding last year to help develop regional supply chains for hydrogen trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, which is set to create about 1,500 more full-time jobs in Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana. 

Nel reportedly plans to build the facility in steps to “match supply with demand,” eventually ramping up operations in Plymouth to provide fuel for about 1.4 million vehicles.

READ MORE: Here’s what Biden’s infrastructure law has done for Michigan

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Follow Political Correspondent Kyle Kaminski here.

Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

CATEGORIES: MONEY AND JOBS
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