Air Liquide will begin building a $150m liquid hydrogen production plant in the western US early in 2019.

It will be the first world scale liquid hydrogen production unit dedicated to the hydrogen energy markets and have a capacity to produce nearly 30 tonnes of hydrogen per day, which can fuel 35,000 Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs).

Air Liquide has signed a long-term agreement with FirstElement Fuel Inc (FEF), a leader in retail hydrogen infrastructure in the US, to supply hydrogen to FEF’s retail liquid hydrogen fuelling stations in California.

There are 35 hydrogen fuelling stations operating in California, with 29 others to follow, according to the California Fuel Cell Partnership.

Air Liquide will be able to provide a reliable supply solution to fuel the 40,000 FCEVs expected to be deployed in the state of California by 2022 with this investment.

“This new investment in hydrogen production and our collaborative relationship with FirstElement Fuel, further demonstrate our long-term commitment to the development of hydrogen energy for mobility, and accelerate the deployment of new hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles — cars, trucks, buses — planned by automotive manufacturers like Toyota, Honda and other leading OEMs,” Michael Graff, Executive Vice President & Executive Committee Member of L’Air Liquide S.A. and Chairman & CEO of American Air Liquide Holdings, Inc.

“We are convinced that hydrogen is an essential sustainable energy vector of the future and a cornerstone of the energy transition.”

The new plant is the first large scale investment into the supply chain infrastructure needed to support hydrogen energy solutions for the energy transition.

Through the investment Air Liquide will enable the large-scale deployment of hydrogen mobility on the west coast, providing a reliable supply solution to fuel the 40,000 FCEVs expected to be deployed in California by 2022.

On top of the long-term supply agreement, Air Lquide and FEF have entered into an agreement outlining Air Liquid’s intent to make an equity investment in FEF, following previous assistance to the company by Toyota and Honda.

“This signals a transitional moment for the hydrogen automobile market,” said Joel Ewanick, Founder & CEO of California-based retail hydrogen station company, FirstElement Fuel Inc.

“Air Liquide is bringing significant private investment to build a key piece for growing California’s hydrogen network. It’s yet another indication of the momentum for hydrogen as a replacement for gasoline.”

Air Liquide has designed and installed more than 120 hydrogen stations around the world so far.

“Honda welcomes Air Liquide’s significant investment in hydrogen refuelling infrastructure for fuel cell vehicles. Their commitment will broaden the appeal of fuel cell electric vehicles and speed the adoption of the promising zero-emission vehicle technology,” said Steven Center, Vice President, Connected and Environmental Business Development Office, American Honda Motor Co., Ind.

“The commitment to construct a hydrogen plant of this scale by Air Liquide and supply FirstElement Fuel with hydrogen for its fuelling stations in California is a clear demonstration of the shared vision of global leaders like Air Liquide, Toyota and OEM community to innovate, build and deploy the vehicles and infrastructure to enable clean mobility of the future,” said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America.