FirstElement Fuel Inc. has received $24m of funding from Air Liquide and Hy Solution, Inc., a US-based subsidiary of Mitsui Group.

FirstElement Fuel’s retail hydrogen network is currently the largest globally. The new capital will further help expand its capacity from the ability to serve 7,000 fuel cell electric vehicles to more than 28,000.

Air Liquide and Hy Solution will each provide $12m for the developments.

“America, Japanese, and French companies are coming together to invest in a retail hydrogen network that is the first of its kind anywhere in the world,” said Joel Ewanick, Founder and CEO of FirstElement Fuel Inc.

“This shows the critical role that California is playing in a global energy transformation, and it’s based on a business case that allows us to expand and drive down the piece of hydrogen fuel, all with a road to profitability and sustainability,” Ewanick continued. 

California’s position as a global leader in fuel cell electric vehicle deployment is unlocking private investment dollars from multi-national companies such as Mitsui Group and Air Liquide as the hydrogen vehicle market positions itself for more growth.

This investment combined with the long-term supply agreement Air Liquide recently announced with FirstElement Fuel will help ensure robust and reliable fuelling to accommodate the 40,000 fuel cell electric vehicles expected to be deployed in California by 2022.

“California is committed to developing a robust hydrogen refuelling network that will support the deployment of zero-emission fuel cell electric vehicles,” said Janea Scott, California Energy Commission Vice Chair.

“Private investments such as those announced today, represent a tremendous opportunity to accelerate California’s transition to a zero-emission transportation market, which in turn helps the state meet its air quality standards and achieve its climate change goals,” Scott continued.

Further strengthening the growth of California’s fuel cell electric vehicle market, FirstElement Fuel entered into a long-term supply agreement for liquid hydrogen with Air Liquide who committed $150m of investment to build a hydrogen production facility back in November (2018).

Air Liquide to build $150m liquid hydrogen production plant in western US

“With our investment and collaboration with FirstElement Fuel and the recent announcement of our new hydrogen production facility to be constructed in the western US, Air Liquide further commits as a leader in the energy transition and the development of hydrogen for mobility throughout the entire supply chain,” said Susan Ellerbusch, Chairman of Air Liquide Hydrogen Energy US. LLC.

“These investments build on existing collaborations with FEF, Toyota, Honda, Mitsui and others to help develop a robust and sustainable hydrogen fuelling infrastructure in the US and support the deployment of zero emission hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles,” Ellerbusch concluded.

FirstElement Fuel currently operates 19 of its True Zero retail hydrogen stations with 12 more under development. The True Zero Network of stations spans from San Diego, throughout Orange County, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay area, and out to Santa Barbara and Lake Tahoe.

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