New Fortress taps Plug Power for PEM Electrolyzer at planned Texas H2 plant

Aug. 5, 2022
The green H2 facility near Beaumont will utilize Plug’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis technology. Once operational, it is expected to produce more than 50 metric tons of hydrogen per day could be scalable to 500 tons daily

Power infrastructure firm New Fortress Energy has contracted Plug Power to help build a 120-MW green hydrogen production plant along the Texas Gulf Coast.

The green H2 facility near Beaumont will utilize Plug Power’s proton exchange membrane (PEM) electrolysis technology. Once operational, it is expected to produce more than 50 metric tons of hydrogen per day.

The plant could be scalable four-fold to about 500 MW of production capacity.

“Plug’s decarbonization goals and NFE’s energy transition goals are strongly aligned, and our partnership has strengthened at a pivotal time for the green hydrogen industry,” Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug, said. “We are thrilled to support NFE’s first investment in green hydrogen. This facility is a model that we intend to replicate in other locations across the country.”

The release does not say how the electrolysis facility would be powered. Hydrogen itself does not emit carbon dioxide when combusted, so many energy transition planners see it as a key resource for reaching net zero emissions goals while also retaining baseload, flexible power.

To be considered truly “green” or carbon-free, the hydrogen electrolysis must be powered by clean electricity such as wind, solar, hydro or nuclear. Texas, for instance, is the nation’s leading in installed wind power capacity.

The Beaumont H2 plant would be NFE’s first major investment in green hydrogen. The facility would be close to a massive array of energy infrastructure and industrial end-users along the Texas Gulf Coast.

“Amid an increasingly favorable U.S. policy environment for hydrogen, we are focused on scalable solutions that have a real impact on decarbonization and believe we are uniquely positioned to be an early mover in this vast and rapidly evolving market,” said Wes Edens, Chairman and CEO of New Fortress Energy.

The Port of Beaumont and broader Sabine-Neches Navigation District are home to an array of large-scale industrial facilities in the refining, petrochemical and other sectors that utilize hydrogen for desulfurization and feedstock processing. In addition to electrolysis, hydrogen can be produced through steam reforming of methane natural gas, although that is a carbon-intensive method.

Many power generation companies are testing or considering hydrogen in their gas-fired power operations. Hydrogen is combustible, but is a lighter gas and requires some adaptation on the pipeline, storage and combustion fronts.

Last week, economic research firm MarketsandMarkets forecast that hydrogen energy storage could grow nearly ten-fold to $119 billion annually by 2027.

Plug Power earlier this year announced it had landed a deal to deliver a 1-GW hydrogen electrolyzer for H2 Energy Europe.

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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 14-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]).

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