Johnson Matthey Plans UK Gigafactory for Hydrogen Fuel Cells

21.07.2022 - UK sustainable technologies group Johnson Matthey plans to invest £80 million in a gigafactory at its site in Royston to scale up the manufacture of hydrogen fuel cell components. The facility is expected to be in operation by the first half of 2024.

The factory will initially be capable of producing 3 GW of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell components annually for hydrogen vehicles. The site could be expanded in the future, almost tripling potential capacity by using the decommissioned clean air production facility, to produce both fuel cell and green hydrogen components.

“Decarbonizing freight transportation is critical to help societies and industries meet their ambitious net-zero emission targets – fuel cells will be a crucial part of the energy transition,” said CEO Liam Condon. “The fuel cell market has now reached a pivotal moment with the increasing urgency to decarbonize transportation and today marks the next step of the journey to a low-carbon future in the UK.”

In May, Johnson Matthey announced a refreshed growth strategy, aiming to be the market leader in performance components for fuel cells and electrolyzers and targeting more than £200 million sales in hydrogen technologies by the end of 2024/2025.

The Royston project will be supported by the UK government through the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF), which forecasts that the UK will need 14 GW of fuel cell stack production annually to meet local vehicle production demands by 2035.

“Our insight forecasts that the UK could dominate European fuel cell production and be a center of excellence globally,” commented APC’s CEO Ian Constance. “We already have 15% of the fuel cell value chain radiating from UK businesses, but this could be as much as 65% just by expanding on current strengths in electrochemistry and coatings or using our automotive capability to volume manufacture components.”

Last September, Johnson Matthey announced it was combining its Green Hydrogen and Fuel Cells businesses under a new division called Hydrogen Technologies. The company said the merged entity will accelerate its growth and scale-up in both markets, benefitting from technical and manufacturing synergies.

According to the London-headquartered group, the global hydrogen market is set to grow exponentially due to its role in decarbonization, with demand forecast to grow almost ten-fold between now and 2050. In addition, the hydrogen fuel cell market is predicted to grow more than three-fold through to 2027.

Author: Elaine Burridge, Freelance Journalist