Going green: Nel Hydrogen to build in Michigan, work with GM

May 3, 2023, 9:28 AM | Updated: 12:24 pm

Employees work at a facility for the Norwegian company Nel in Heroya, Norway, on April 20, 2023. Ne...

Employees work at a facility for the Norwegian company Nel in Heroya, Norway, on April 20, 2023. Nel makes devices that take water and split it into hydrogen and oxygen, known as electrolyzers, as well as fueling stations. The company announced plans Wednesday, May 3, to build a massive new plant in Michigan as it works with General Motors to drive down the cost of hydrogen. (AP Photo/Trond R. Teigen)

(AP Photo/Trond R. Teigen)

The green hydrogen company Nel announced plans Wednesday to build a massive new plant in Michigan as it works with General Motors to drive down the cost of hydrogen.

The Norwegian company makes devices that take water and split it into hydrogen and oxygen, known as electrolyzers, as well as fueling stations. CEO Håkon Volldal said the company will make electrolyzers in the Detroit area to supply up to 4 gigawatts’ worth of hydrogen each year, making it among the largest such factories in the world.

Nel looked at every state, but picked the longtime home of the American automotive industry for its new “gigafactory” to be near General Motors. Michigan also offered attractive financial incentives, partnerships with universities and training programs, and strong support from the governor’s office, Volldal said. Getting the plant up and running will take an estimated $350 million.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer called the new Nel plant a “phenomenal opportunity.” She said cleaner, alternative sources of energy improve the quality of people’s lives and create good-paying jobs.

Nel, which was founded nearly a century ago, is also doubling its manufacturing plant in Herøya, Norway, from 500 megawatts to 1 gigawatt, and expanding the one in Wallingford, Connecticut from 50 megawatts to 500. It’s getting large orders from the United States and Volldal expects more. The Inflation Reduction Act offers a sizeable tax credit for producing green hydrogen, as an incentive to replace fossil fuels in heavy manufacturing. There are also plans to use hydrogen in power generation and transport to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.

“Hydrogen is not just hope anymore. It’s reality,” Volldal said. “And I think we, as an industry, are being seen as part of the solution, not just some kind of funky laboratory technology.”

Nel and General Motors announced in November that they would work together to make electrolyzers more efficient and less expensive. One problem with trying to drop in clean hydrogen as a substitute fuel is the vast amounts of renewable electricity it takes to split the water. The idea is that if they can drive down these costs, Nel can grow its business, and GM and its customers will have the green hydrogen they need. GM is developing and commercializing hydrogen fuel cells for large vehicles and for power generation. Fuel cell vehicles are electric vehicles that instead of relying on lithium ion batteries, depend on the chemical energy of hydrogen.

Charles Freese V, executive director of General Motors’ Hydrotec business, said having Nel nearby will make it easier to share technology, people and resources, which should mean fewer challenges and faster progress.

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.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said her agency has advanced the technology at the heart of Nel for nearly two decades. The DOE awarded over $35 million to an electrolyzer developer in Wallingford that was acquired by Nel in 2017. The grants paid for research, innovation and demonstration projects to take the technology from the laboratory to megawatt-scale.

“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,’” Granholm said in a statement Wednesday.

Whitmer visited Norway in January to meet with Nel executives. Michigan is working with neighboring states to be part of a federal plan that will create regional networks, or “hubs,” of hydrogen producers, consumers and infrastructure. It has also become a top state for electric vehicle and battery investments.

“We understand how crucial innovation is when it comes to energy independence and clean energy, in particular with all the climate pressures the globe is confronting,” Whitmer said in an interview. “We want to focus on solving the world’s problems.”

Volldal expects to create more than 500 jobs in Michigan, depending on the level of automation, as the plant is built in phases. The one in Norway is fully automated. Manufacturing could begin in 2025 or 2026.


Associated Press climate and environmental coverage receives support from several private foundations. See more about AP’s climate initiative here. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

United States News

FILE - Coretta Scott King, widow of slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., speaks at an ...

Associated Press

Carter and the Kings: A friendship and alliance — but after MLK’s assassination

ATLANTA (AP) — The voice of Martin Luther King Sr., a melodic tenor like his slain son, carried across Madison Square Garden, calming the raucous Democrats who had nominated his friend and fellow Georgian for the presidency. “Surely, the Lord sent Jimmy Carter to come on out and bring America back where she belongs,” the […]

22 hours ago

Last seasons plant stalks are seen at Seth Jacobs' marijuana planting field at his Slack Hollow far...

Associated Press

Slow start to New York’s legal pot market leaves farmers holding the bag

ARGYLE, N.Y. (AP) — Seth Jacobs has about 100 bins packed with marijuana flower sitting in storage at his upstate New York farm. And that’s a problem. There aren’t enough places to sell it. The 700 pounds (318 kilograms) of pungent flower was harvested last year as part of New York’s first crop of legally […]

22 hours ago

FILE - Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., speaks during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions con...

Associated Press

Wisconsin Republicans look for rebound, Democrats stay on offensive as 2024 fights loom

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin once again be a battleground. Democrats, recognizing that four of the past six presidential elections in the state have been decided by less than a percentage point, are trying not to become overconfident in the face of recent gains. They are gathering for their annual state convention starting June 10 […]

22 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan wildfire prompts evacuations, threatens multiple buildings

GRAYLING TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A wildfire in Michigan burned more than 1,000 acres (1.5 square miles) and prompted emergency evacuations and road closures Saturday, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. The wildfire located within Grayling Township, about 4 miles (6.4 km) southeast of Grayling, is moving west and southwest and threatens multiple […]

22 hours ago

Associated Press

16 South American migrants who entered US through Texas flown to California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Sixteen Venezuelan and Colombian migrants who entered the country through Texas were flown to California by chartered plane and dropped off outside a church in Sacramento, Gov. Gavin Newsom and migrant rights advocates said Saturday. The young men and women were dropped off Friday outside the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento […]

22 hours ago

Associated Press

Florida woman charged with child neglect after her car catches fire as she was allegedly shoplifting

OVIEDO, Fla. (AP) — A Florida woman faces charges of aggravated child neglect and arson after her car became engulfed in flames while she was allegedly shoplifting at a mall, according to an arrest report. Alicia Moore, 24, parked her car in a parking lot outside a Dillard’s department store at Oviedo Mall on May […]

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles



Here are the biggest tips to keep your AC bill low this summer

PHOENIX — In Arizona during the summer, having a working air conditioning unit is not just a pleasure, but a necessity. No one wants to walk from their sweltering car just to continue to be hot in their home. As the triple digits hit around the Valley and are here to stay, your AC bill […]


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

Going green: Nel Hydrogen to build in Michigan, work with GM