November 27 (Renewables Now) - Air Liquide SA (EPA:AI) has agreed to supply renewable hydrogen to FirstElement Fuel Inc, a California-based firm building a hydrogen charging network, and it has also “signaled its intent” to make an equity investment in it.
FirstElement Fuel announced the long-term renewable hydrogen supply agreement on Monday. The fuel is needed for its California True Zero Network, which currently includes 19 operational retail hydrogen stations and 12 under development.
Also on Monday, French industrial gases group Air Liquide said it will be investing USD 150 million (EUR 132m) to build a liquid hydrogen production plant in the Western US. It will be able to produce almost 30 tonnes of hydrogen per day, or as much as is needed to fuel 35,000 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). Construction is to start in early 2019.
“Although hydrogen is already widely produced, a dedicated production facility will drive down cost and add reliability to the fuel supply chain for the rapidly expanding fuel cell electric vehicle market, helping FirstElement achieve its key objective of enhancing the customer experience,” FirstElement said. It now estimates the price at the dispenser would fall faster than previously expected thanks to scale, helping hydrogen get closer to cost competitiveness with gasoline.
Neither Air Liquide, nor FirstElement Fuel revealed details on the equity investment mentioned. The latter has been growing its retail hydrogen network with financial support from the California Energy Commission, Toyota, Honda, the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD), and the Bay Area AQMD.