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Nel says 'green' hydrogen could be as cheap as fossil alternative by 2025

OSLO (Reuters) - Norway’s Nel, a maker of zero-emission hydrogen technology, will expand its operations in 2021 to make its products more cost competitive, leading to a significant loss for the year, it said on Thursday.

Nel makes electrolysers used to make so-called green hydrogen from water rather than from fossil fuels, and also hydrogen fuelling equipment.

Hydrogen, currently mainly used in oil refining and to produce ammonia for fertilisers, is lauded as a potential future green fuel of choice as it does not produce greenhouse gas emissions when it burns.

Nel’s goal is to enable customers to produce green hydrogen at $1.5 per kilo in 2025, a cost level where it can outcompete fossil alternatives, down from between $2.5 and $4.5 per kilo in 2019, it said in a strategy update.

“Achieving this would allow green hydrogen to start to reach fossil parity, representing one of the most significant achievement for zero-emission solutions and a carbon neutral planet,” Chief Executive Jon Andre Loekke said.

Green hydrogen requires using electrolysis to split water into its components of hydrogen and oxygen, an expensive method compared to extracting hydrogen from natural gas or coal.

Finding a way to make this cheaply, or under $1.50 per kilo, is often described as the holy grail of green energy transition.

Nel is building a fully automated manufacturing facility for alkaline hydrolysers at Heroeya in southern Norway and aims to expand the production capacity to beyond 2 gigawatts (GW) annually from the current nameplate capacity of about 360 megawatt (MW).

“By installing the first 500 MW line we will cut the cost approximately in half, and when we add additional lines... we should be able to cut the cost by almost half again,” Loekke said.

Nel’s share price has risen by 200% in the last year, giving it a market value of 45 billion crowns ($5.3 billion).

($1 = 8.4685 Norwegian crowns)

Reporting by Victoria Klesty, editing by Terje Solsvik and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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