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Plug Power's CEO on the challenges of green hydrogen

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Nov 20, 2023

A hydrogen-powered 3MW fuel cell project developed for Microsoft by Plug Power in Latham, N.Y. Photo courtesy of Plug Power.

The CEO of Plug Power, the green hydrogen and fuel cell company, tells Axios that he believes the company is set to put its going concern warning behind it early next year.

Catch up quick: Earlier this month, Plug issued the warning in its third-quarter earnings, citing supply chain challenges. Shares plummeted.

  • CEO Andy Marsh tells Axios that he expects to come to final terms for a commitment from the Department of Energy loan program for a New York plant.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.

On the lack of operating green hydrogen facilities in the U.S.:

  • I don't actually blast the government for not having the IRA PTC guidance out. I've become very sympathetic to the people in Washington trying to get this guidance right.
  • Without the guidance, though, it's hard for people to make financial investments.
  • Constellation Energy, for example, really wants to generate low carbon hydrogen from nuclear power plants. They don't know if that'll count under the PTC guidance.

On when the PTC hydrogen guidance might come out:

  • I was in my favorite New York senator's office, and they think it's going to come out this year. So here's my bet: that'll come out Christmas week, because nobody's going to like the guidance.

On the U.S. green hydrogen market in 2024:

  • I think what you'll see is more final investment decisions made in '24. And the real build-out will be in '25.

On the challenging Q3 earnings earlier this month:

  • Plug is a company with a $5 billion balance sheet and no debt. I have a billion dollars in reserve cash. I have $500 million of cash on my balance sheet. I have a billion dollars of inventory.
  • We think that we won't be a going concern come February, because we think there's enough balance sheet activity that we can do that allows us to not have the auditor make that decision.
  • If I need to tap the equity market a bit to top off to make sure that we don't have that label going on, we will.

On the likelihood of raising capital before the quarterly earnings report:

  • I can always go to the pawn shop and get money. There's always bad money available, and I don't want the bad money.
  • If we do do it, there'll be more of a debt element to it than anything else, since I don't have any debt on the balance sheet.

On taking risks by pioneering green hydrogen projects:

  • If you're a big, big company, you have no reason to take any risk. That really wasn't a path open to Plug because we don't have that old industrial base.
  • The second path is, I could be a fuel cell and hydrogen company that sat back and waited.
  • We're the third type of company. We plan to be the Amazon of green hydrogen and fuel cells.
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