Johnson Matthey new hydrogen gigafactory to boost decarbonized transportation

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Johnson Matthey (JM), a global leader in sustainable technologies, has announced plans to construct an £80 million gigafactory at its existing facility in Royston, United Kingdom, to increase production of hydrogen fuel cell components.

JM announced a revised strategy earlier this year, aiming to be the “global leader in performance components for fuel cells and electrolysers” by 2024/25, with Hydrogen Technologies revenues exceeding £200 million.

The gigafactory will initially be capable of producing 3GW of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell components annually for hydrogen vehicles. The UK government’s Automotive Transformation Fund will assist the project (ATF). The APC predicts that the UK will require 14GW of fuel cell stack production and 400,000 high pressure carbon fiber tanks annually to meet local vehicle production demands by 2035, whereas the market anticipates that as many as three million fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) could be on the road worldwide by 2030.

This investment will preserve highly skilled manufacturing positions in the United Kingdom. The site should be operational by the first quarter of 2024.

Utilizing cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, the new Royston facility will increase production of fuel cell components to fulfill customer demand. Utilizing the defunct Clean Air production facility, the site might be extended in the future, nearly tripling its potential capacity, to create both fuel cell and green hydrogen components.

Liam Condon, Chief Executive of Johnson Matthey said: “Decarbonising freight transportation is critical to help societies and industries meet their ambitious net zero emission targets – fuel cells will be a crucial part of the energy transition. For more than two decades, JM has been at the forefront of fuel cell innovation. The fuel cell market has now reached a pivotal moment with the increasing urgency to decarbonise transportation and today marks the next step of the journey to a low-carbon future in the UK. We’re delighted to be playing a key role in driving it forward.”

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng: “This investment, backed by Government, is a major vote of confidence from Johnson Matthey in the UK. Their new facility will not only add to our growing electric vehicle supply chain, but it will also help secure hundreds of highly skilled jobs.

“We are working hard to ensure the UK reaps the benefits of the green industrial revolution, and today’s announcement reaffirms UK’s reputation as one of the best locations in the world for high quality auto manufacturing.”

Ian Constance, Chief Executive of the APC, the organisation tasked by the automotive industry and government to accelerate development of green vehicle technology and responsible for managing ATF, said: “This is incredibly significant and puts the UK in an enviable position in the global fuel cell supply chain. Our insight forecasts that the UK could dominate European fuel cell production and be a centre of excellence globally and today’s announcement is a huge step towards realising that ambition.

“We already have 15% of the fuel cell value chain radiating from UK businesses but this could be as much as 65% just by expanding on current strengths in electrochemistry and coatings or using our automotive capability to volume manufacture components. Johnson Matthey, a world-leader in hydrogen technology, have seen this opportunity and I’m delighted they have chosen the UK to grow this capability.”

Road freight accounts for approximately 9 percent of worldwide CO2 emissions, with 62 percent of those emissions originating from medium and heavy-duty trucking – the most difficult-to-control modes of transport. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) provide similar advantages to existing technology, such as fast refueling and extended range, but generate zero kerbside CO2 or other pollutants, making them a preferred alternative for decarbonizing heavy-duty commercial vehicles and the foundation of a net-zero future.

Nedim Husomanovic

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