Rochester will be home to the world’s first gigafactory dedicated to the production of hydrogen fuel cell stacks and electrolyzers, Plug Power Inc. and Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday. U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer hinted at the deal in late December, but Plug Power officials declined to confirm the project.
The Albany-area provider of modern hydrogen and fuel cell technology will establish a $125 million Innovation Center on John Street in Henrietta, a move that will create nearly 380 jobs. Plug Power is being helped with the project through $13 million in Empire State Development Excelsior Tax Credits, as well as assistance from the County of Monroe, Rochester Gas and Electric and Greater Rochester Enterprise Inc.
“We are thrilled to expand in our home state of New York, announcing Rochester, N.Y., as the location for the world’s first PEM stack and electrolyzer Plug Power Innovation Center,” Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh said in a statement. “Among many great options, none could match Rochester in terms of talent, local supplier networks and opportunities to partner with top-tier research institutions. With this decision, we are positioning the company and the region as global leaders in PEM technology, driving scale and industry transformation. Many thanks to New York state for its continued support including Gov. Cuomo, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Congressman Joe Morelle and many from Empire State Development and Greater Rochester Enterprise.”
The fuel cell stacks manufactured at the facility will be used in Plug Power’s ProGen hydrogen fuel cell engines that are used to power a variety of electric vehicles including material handling equipment, on-road commercial fleet vehicles and drones. The electrolyzers are used in the generation of green hydrogen from renewable electricity. Plug Power plans to supply local commercial fleets with green hydrogen produced on-site, company officials said in a separate statement.
“I’m ecstatic that Plug Power heeded my call to make Monroe County the home of its new hydrogen fuel cell Gigafactory. Rochester’s powerhouse workforce pioneered cutting edge hydrogen fuel cell technology and can now help drive Plug Power’s revolutionary clean energy technology to new heights,” Schumer said. “Over 375 new clean energy jobs will now supercharge Rochester, positioning the region as a global hub in the green economy. I thank Gov. Cuomo and commend New York State for its support to help enable Plug Power, a proud Upstate New York-based business with deep roots and hundreds of New York State workers, to double down here by building its biggest manufacturing factory in Monroe County.”
In November, Schumer reached out to Marsh to express his support for the company’s interest in locating its new factory in New York state. At the time, Plug Power was considering sites in New York and another state for its hydrogen fuel cell component manufacturing plant the company plans to open this year.
Renovation work on the existing facility at 1025 John St. will begin in the first quarter this year and manufacturing is expected to begin in mid-2021.
Plug Power was founded in 1997 and is headquartered in Latham, Albany County. The company employs roughly 400 people in New York, including 80 in its Rochester manufacturing site. Plug Power created the first commercially viable market for hydrogen fuel cell technology and as a result, has deployed more than 38,000 fuel cell systems for e-mobility, more than anyone else in the world. The company has become the largest buyer of liquid hydrogen, having built and operated a hydrogen highway across North America. The company also recently announced a partnership with SK Group, one of the leading South Korean business groups, to accelerate hydrogen as an alternative energy source in Asian markets.
“We are thrilled that Plug Power has chosen Rochester, NY as the site of their new hydrogen fuel cell Gigafactory. The 375 new clean energy jobs created will help energize our local economy, while state-of-the-art sustainable technology solutions will help further our region’s reputation as a center of technology and innovation,” Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Bob Duffy said. “Greater Rochester Chamber looks forward to working with CEO Andy Marsh and the Plug Power team to ensure their ongoing success and growth in the Finger Lakes region and beyond.”
In 2019, Plug Power completed its nearly $4 million expansion in Rochester. The move came less than a year after the opening of Plug Power’s Eastman Business Park facility. Its Rochester facilities include engineering and administrative offices, research and development laboratory space and a warehouse location.
“For years, Plug Power has been a critical partner in helping move both the state and nation towards a cleaner, greener future, as well as in helping strengthen local economies and create jobs,” Cuomo said Tuesday. “The company’s continued investment and expansion in the Finger Lakes region is truly a testament to their commitment to this effort. This state-of-the-art Innovation Center will not only further establish New York as a center for green energy excellence and create hundreds of jobs, but also play a key role in helping reach the goals set forth in our nation-leading climate and clean energy agenda.”