Plug Power’s $125 million gigafactory in Henrietta is running at full production and adding jobs.
The local site joins a network that will help the Albany County-based fuel cell and hydrogen electrolyzer manufacturer deliver on its goal of supplying 1,000 tons of green hydrogen daily on a global basis by 2028.
Plug’s Rochester area innovation center is one of the first and largest fuel cell and electrolyzer manufacturing gigafactories in the world with a production capacity of more than one gigawatt.
The 155,000-square-foot local site, which opened in 2021 and has been doing low-volume production, also provides a blueprint for global manufacturing expansion for the business, said Andy Marsh, Plug president and CEO.
He added that the company’s mission is to help build the green hydrogen economy and create a better future for generations to come.
“We are doing something here that is changing the world,” Marsh said.
The facility manufactures hydrogen fuel cell stacks for the company’s hydrogen fuel cell engines used to power a variety of electric vehicles, including material handling equipment, on-road commercial fleet vehicles and drones, explained Dan O’Connell, general manager of the Henrietta site.
O’Connell previously served as co-founder and CEO of American Fuel Cell, which Plug acquired in 2018.
The Henrietta site has 275 workers and O’Connell expects to add 75 more by year-end. By the end of next year, he estimates the facility will employ 375 workers.
Workers are needed for positions across the board, including chemists, mechanical and electrical engineers, technicians and assemblers, he said.
To help meet the workforce demand, Plug offers apprenticeship training programs, as well as opportunities for current employees to develop into promotional positions.
The business also collaborates with area colleges, including Monroe Community College and Rochester Institute of Technology, on training and co-ops, O’Connell noted.
The region is a good fit for the plant, Marsh added, noting its exemplary workforce and strong technology base due to a history of innovation from companies ranging from Eastman Kodak Co. to General Motors Co.
“There’s a lot of talent here,” Marsh said.
Plug recently held its annual Plug Symposium at the local innovation center. The event drew hundreds of analysts, investors, customers and suppliers from around the world.
At the event – which also streamed globally – company officials detailed how they are building the green hydrogen economy through an ecosystem approach – from production, storage and delivery to energy generation.
The company created the first commercially viable market for hydrogen fuel cell technology – primarily used in forklifts for the material handling industry – with customers like Walmart, Amazon and Home Depot.
It currently supports more than 100 logistics and manufacturing companies globally and is the world’s largest buyer of liquid hydrogen.
Plug was founded in 1997 and employs nearly 2,450 workers companywide.
It operates 32 facilities, including manufacturing, distribution, service centers and sales offices in nine countries. Company leaders expect these numbers to continue to grow as it expands operations.
The Henrietta site — a converted Alstom electronics control system plant — is the first of two facilities Plug will have in the region.
Last fall, Plug broke ground on its $290 million green hydrogen fuel production facility at the Science and Technology Advanced Manufacturing Park in Genesee County.
Marsh said the facility should be up and running in the third quarter of 2023 and employ upwards of 70 people.
Plug is the first tenant at the manufacturing park and is funding the construction of a 450-megawatt electricity substation that will support its hydrogen projection facility and future growth opportunities at STAMP.
Officials estimate the plant will produce 45 metric tons of green liquid hydrogen daily servicing the Northeast region.
When fully built, the facility will offer the company’s transportation fuel customers pricing that is competitive to diesel, company leaders said.
Marsh — who has led the business since 2008 — is confident of Plug’s growth, given the recent push from companies and governments around the world to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.
Plug (Nasdaq: PLUG) announced earlier this month that it expects revenue for 2022 to be five to 10 percent lower than previous projections of $900 million to $925 million due to supply chain constraints that led to the delay of some projects.
The updated guidance, however, is still higher than sales for the company in 2021 when revenues totaled $502 million.
While the company plans to grow globally, it will continue to have a local presence, according to Marsh.
“We are committed to New York,” he said.
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