Nikola Corporation and Wabash Valley Resources announced a $50 million cash and stock investment by Nikola in exchange for a 20% equity stake in a sustainable hydrogen plant in West Terre Haute, Indiana.

The project intends to utilize solid waste byproducts such as petroleum coke in conjunction with biomass to generate clean, sustainable hydrogen for transportation fuel and base-load electricity generation while also capturing CO2 emissions for permanent subsurface sequestration. When completed, the project will be one of the largest carbon capture and production projects in the United States. The goal is to manufacture hydrogen with a zero carbon footprint, with the possibility of developing negative carbon footprint hydrogen in the future.

Together, Nikola and WVR hope to pave the way for the Midwest’s shift to sustainable transportation fuels for trucking operations, one of the most heavily traveled commercial routes in the country.

Nikola expects this investment to establish a substantial hydrogen hub capable of offloading around 50 tons of hydrogen per day to fuel its future dispensing stations over a 300-mile radius, covering a sizable chunk of the Midwest. Nikola’s exercise of its offtake right will almost certainly need significant additional investment in liquefaction, storage, and transportation infrastructure.

“We intend this project to produce clean, low cost hydrogen in a critical geography for commercial transportation.” said Pablo Koziner, President, Energy and Commercial, Nikola. “The Wabash solution can generate electricity as well as hydrogen transportation fuel, which should provide the flexibility to support future truck sales and hydrogen station rollout in the region. The expected efficiency of WVR’s clean hydrogen production should allow Nikola’s bundled truck lease, including fuel, service, and maintenance, to compete favorably with diesel.”

“WVR is developing a multi-product facility, where the hydrogen can be combusted in a turbine to produce clean baseload power. The recent spate of power outages serves as a reminder that the market has a pressing need for a non-intermittent source of clean energy. We also look forward to working with Nikola to bring zero-emission transportation solutions to the Midwest,” said Simon Greenshields, Chairman of the Board for Wabash Valley Resources.

The completed facility should be capable of producing up to 336 tons of hydrogen per day, which is equivalent to around 285 megawatts of clean electricity. The project is intended to employ 125 full-time workers and support up to 750 construction jobs. The project is scheduled to begin in early 2022 and will last around two years.

According to the US Department of Energy, by 2050, the hydrogen economy in the United States could provide an estimated $750 billion in annual income and 3.4 million jobs.

The first Nikola Tre hydrogen fuel-cell prototypes have commenced construction in Arizona and Ulm, Germany, with testing and certification scheduled for 2022 and serial manufacturing scheduled for 2023.

Nedim Husomanovic

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