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Exclusive: Plug wins $1.7B DOE loan deal for green hydrogen

Plug Power's green hydrogen project operating in Woodbine, Georgia.

Plug Power's green hydrogen project operating in Woodbine, Ga. Photo: Courtesy of Plug Power

Plug Power was awarded a conditional commitment for an up to $1.66 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy to help build up to six hydrogen projects across the U.S., Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The commitment from the DOE is the largest hydrogen deal to come out of the agency's loan program office.

Catch up quick: Plug has a variety of business lines across the green hydrogen ecosystem.

  • It builds projects, makes electrolyzers (machines that produce hydrogen) and makes hydrogen-powered fuel cells for forklifts and backup power. Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot have bought its gear.
  • The Latham, New York-based company operates a green hydrogen project in Georgia, one of the few to actually be operating.
  • Plug has also faced challenges. Last year the company issued a going concern warning citing supply chain challenges, though the company says it resolved that in March.

Zoom in: When built out, Plug's projects are expected to create 100 to 300 construction jobs and 50 operating jobs per facility.

  • CEO Andy Marsh tells Axios the first site that will use the financing is expected to be near Graham, Texas, where Plug helped get a wind farm built to power the project.
  • Plug's electrolyzers and hydrogen liquifiers are made in the U.S.
  • "President Biden will like this deal because it's all American-made and American-generated," Marsh says.

Zoom out: Jigar Shah, director of the Loan Programs Office, described the importance of the conditional commitment to Plug as "clean hydrogen is an essential part of how we're going to decarbonize our economy by 2050."

The big picture: In the U.S., there are a lot of green hydrogen projects at the early stages of development, but very few that are operating.

  • In a world of high interest rates, developers have been holding back because projects are expensive and buyers often hard to find.
  • The DOE's guarantees can help companies access low-cost loans for projects.
  • One of the biggest challenges for green hydrogen projects like Plug's will be to get enough clean electricity capacity for its projects, given soaring recent demand and long interconnect timelines.

What's next: Marsh says he hopes it takes about 120 days to finalize the deal and get access to funds.

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