GM targets hydrogen-powered generators in expansion of fuel cell business

Logo of GM atop the company headquarters
The new GM logo is seen on the facade of the General Motors headquarters in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., March 16, 2021.REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

Jan 19 (Reuters) - General Motors (GM.N) on Wednesday said it plans to expand its hydrogen fuel cell business beyond vehicles by supplying hydrogen-powered generators for uses including at construction sites, music festivals, data centers and the military.

The wider application of hydrogen fuel cells will allow GM to leverage and scale existing hydrogen investments and refine the technology, GM executives said.

"Think of places where you don't have a permanent installation for power generation, but you need clean power sources," Charlie Freese, executive director of GM's Hydrotec business, said on a call with journalists.

The company declined to say what revenue it expects from the new business, and said an availability date and price for the generators would be announced at a later time.

The hydrogen fuel-cell systems will be assembled by GM's joint venture with Honda (7267.T) in Brownstown, Michigan. Utah-based Renewable Innovations will build the generators, with production slated to start next year, GM executives said.

As part of its Hydrotec business, the automaker previously announced hydrogen fuel cell collaborations with truck maker Navistar International Corp, locomotive developer Wabtec Corp (WAB.N) and aerospace equipment manufacturer Liebherr Aerospace. read more

Hydrogen - a fuel obtained by passing electricity through water to split the element from oxygen - has been touted by companies and governments as a way to cut carbon emissions. But most hydrogen is currently produced by electrolyzers powered by natural gas or other fossil fuels, known as "gray hydrogen." It is four times costlier to produce "green hydrogen," which is derived from renewable energy sources. read more

Freese said GM's goal was to increase the use of green hydrogen and was hopeful that costs would come down. He said the company was also looking to work with infrastructure providers to install more local hydrogen production systems and reduce the need for costly hydrogen transportation.

(Reporting by Tina Bellon; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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