Michigan’s Hydrogen Energy Leadership Reaffirmed with DOE Funding

Garrett Anderson

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Michigan’s lead position in the pursuit of large-scale hydrogen energy use is reinforced with two Department of Energy awards

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The Department of Energy (DOE) announced a total of $80 million for two hydrogen projects in Michigan, reaffirming the state’s leadership in clean energy and advanced manufacturing. 

Nel Hydrogen, which announced plans to construct an automated gigafactory in Plymouth Charter Township, will receive $50 million from the DOE to help develop the site’s fully automated manufacturing process, which will enable higher throughput, better materials efficiency and an advanced electrolyzer design. 

The DOE is also awarding General Motors (GM) $30 million, allowing the company to expand domestic fuel cell manufacturing capacity, while demonstrating improved fuel cell durability and performance for heavy-duty applications. 

These funds from the DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Office further cement that Michigan is defining the clean energy future through its strong manufacturing heritage, dedication to creating the next generation of mobility and whole-of-government approach. 

“We are thrilled that Nel Hydrogen and General Motors will both play a part in continuing Michigan’s legacy of innovation. Grateful for support from the Biden-Harris administration for bringing supply chains home, we maintain our Make It in Michigan strategy to lead the way in advanced manufacturing and clean energy,” said Quentin L. Messer, Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and President and Chair of the Michigan Strategic Fund. “Thanks to Gov. Whitmer and her willingness to take the Michigan story on the road and ongoing legislative support for the Make It in Michigan economic development strategy. While work remains, through collective Team Michigan hard work and problem-solving, we’ve been able to secure these transformational investments in support of Michigan’s clean energy future.” 


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Nel Hydrogen Chooses Michigan for Hydrogen Energy Innovation 

The Nel Hydrogen project will enable greater economies of scale through electrolyzer manufacturing innovations, including automated manufacturing processes, advanced quality control methods and design for end-of-life recovery and recyclability. 

To secure the initial investment, Gov. Whitmer met with Nel Hydrogen in January 2023 during her first economic investment mission to Norway and Switzerland. The mission focused on attracting job-creating business investments in next-generation automotive and clean energy manufacturing. That May, the governor announced Nel Hydrogen’s investment at the 2023 SelectUSA Investment Summit. 

Nel Hydrogen considered several states across the country before choosing Michigan for its 507,000-square-foot gigafactory, part of an up to $400 million investment, thanks to the engagement from Gov. Whitmer and what the state could offer. 

“Plymouth Charter Township is an ideal location for Nel. Here, we have access to a highly educated workforce, universities and research institutions, and we are close to our collaborating partner, General Motors. In addition, the Government and the authorities of Michigan have provided a very attractive financial support package for us,” said Nel CEO Håkon Volldal at the announcement. 


General Motors Makes History in Michigan 

GM was chosen to support high-throughput manufacturing of low-cost fuel cells and address key scale-up challenges to achieve economies of scale. This expands on the work through their first-time partnership with Honda, a joint venture named Fuel Cell System Manufacturing LLC, which is focused on large-scale full fuel cell system manufacturing. The group’s 70,000-square-foot hydrogen and fuel cell production facility in Brownfield is expected to generate nearly $49 million in investment and create up to 70 jobs. 

These efforts add to GM’s ongoing dedication to creating a clean energy-powered future in Michigan. Most notably, this includes the largest investment in the company’s history, a $7 billion commitment that included $4 billion to convert GM’s Orion Township assembly plant for the production of full-size EV pickups, a project expected to generate a total capital investment of $4 billion and create 2,300 jobs. The decision also included plans to construct GM’s third U.S. Ultium high-volume battery cell manufacturing facility in the city of Lansing and Delta Township, generating an expected $2.5 billion investment and creating 1,700 jobs. 

“These important investments would not have been possible without the strong support from the Governor, Michigan Legislature, Orion Township, the City of Lansing, Delta Township as well as our collaboration with the UAW and LG Energy Solution,” said Mary Barra, GM Chair and CEO, at the time of the announcement. “These investments also create opportunities in Michigan for us to bring our employees along on our transition to an all-electric future.” 

Learn more about how Team Michigan and the MEDC are making sure the future of clean energy transportation, from advancements in hydrogen energy to manufacturing the next generation of electric vehicles, is at home in Michigan. 



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