Power & Pipes

FERC, CFTC, and State Energy Law Developments

The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) on March 15, 2023 that makes available up to $750 million to support the development of electrolyzer technology, domestic supply chains, and high-throughput manufacturing of electrolyzers and fuel cells. The funding is intended to improve the efficiency, durability, and cost of producing clean hydrogen using electrolyzers; to advance new manufacturing technologies for both electrolyzer and fuel cell technologies; and to create innovative approaches to increase reuse and recycling of clean hydrogen and fuel cell technologies.

It also supports efforts to develop manufacturing processes for medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel cell components to reach the manufacturing capacity target of 20,000 stacks per year and the 2030 cost and durability targets of $80 per kilowatt (kW) and 25,000 hours of durability for heavy-duty vehicle applications.

Spread across six topics, the FOA supports the goals of the following three initiatives:

  • The Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program, which is focused on reducing the cost of hydrogen produced using electrolyzers (currently around $5 per kilogram (kg)) to less than $2/kg by 2026
  • The Clean Hydrogen Manufacturing Initiative, which supports the research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) of technologies and processes for manufacturing the equipment used in the production, processing, delivery, storage, and use of clean hydrogen
  • The Clean Hydrogen Technology Recycling Research, Development, and Demonstration Program, which supports approaches to increasing the reuse and recycling of clean hydrogen technologies

Three topics support the goals of the Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program, two topics focus on addressing manufacturing and supply chain challenges for medium- and heavy-duty fuel cell stacks and components, and one topic focuses on innovations in recovery and recycling for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell and electrolyzer cells and stacks. These are addressed in turn below.

Clean Hydrogen Electrolysis Program

Low-Cost, High-Throughput Electrolyzer Manufacturing. This topic will fund the development of electrolyzer cell and stack manufacturing techniques, processes, and equipment that enable high-volume commercial manufacturing. It seeks applications for proof-of-concept demonstrations to meet a DOE stack cost target of $100/kW (LTE) or $125/kW (HTE) by 2026. The FOA identifies liquid alkaline (LA), proton exchange membrane (PEM), and oxide-conducting solid oxide (O-SOEC) as three electrolyzer technologies that have the greatest technological and commercial maturity and is focused on RD&D of manufacturing related to those electrolyzer technologies. Applications of interest may involve automation of cell/stack manufacturing, high-volume fabrication manufacturing processes and equipment for high-quality components, automation and equipment development focused on enabling robotic or high-volume handling of cells, quality control and defect detection, and reduction of the number of manufacturing steps. Proposed projects under this topic should be up to three years in length for total DOE funding of $20–50 million per project. At least a 50% cost share is required.

Electrolyzer Component and Supply Chain Development. This topic seeks to accelerate research and development (R&D) of advanced electrolyzer components and their associated manufacturing processes, techniques, and equipment. The goal is to achieve higher efficiency, improved durability, and lower capital costs in domestically manufactured electrolyzers while also having the potential for manufacturing to be affordable and without supply chain restrictions. The FOA identifies specific advanced components of interest, which vary based on the type of electrolyzer technology. Proposed projects under this topic should be three to four years in length for a total DOE funding of $5–10 million per project. The minimum cost share is 20%.

Advanced Electrolyzer Technology and Component Development. This topic focuses on early-stage R&D on novel materials and components for next-generation PEM, LA, and O-SOEC electrolyzer technologies and longer-term technologies such as alkaline exchange membrane (AEM) and proton-conducting solid oxide electrolysis cell (P-SOEC). Proposed projects should be two to three years in length for total DOE funding of $2–5 million per project. These projects must include at least a 20% cost share.

Fuel Cell Manufacturing

Fuel Cell Membrane Electrode Assembly and Stack Manufacturing and Automation. This topic aims to accelerate fuel cell manufacturing innovation and scale-up and address manufacturing challenges. The ultimate goals are to (1) establish and validate commercially viable manufacturing capabilities that demonstrate increased manufacturing capacity at the cell and stack levels and (2) reduce costs, increase durability, and improve efficiency toward meeting the 2030 heavy-duty stack cost targets. High-volume continuous and/or automated methods to assemble and stack cells with precision and quality are necessary to facilitate the expansion of the fuel cell markets. This topic focuses on the design, build, and demonstration of pilot-scale manufacturing equipment for automated cell and stack assembly and on the throughput, as well as controls, quality, conditioning/leak checking, and material handling capabilities. Proposed projects should be up to three years in length for total DOE funding of $20–30 million per project. The minimum cost share is 50%.

Fuel Cell Supply Chain Development. This topic supports the establishment and expansion of manufacturing and production of critical cell materials and the development and production of alternate membrane materials. The three objectives of this topic are to (1) strengthen (and address deficiencies in) the domestic supply chain and reduce the cost of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fuel cells and their associated materials and components; (2) establish or expand domestic manufacturing capability and support domestic industrial scale-up of critical materials and components for heavy-duty vehicle fuel cells; and (3) develop innovative and nonhazardous alternative materials for novel PEM fuel cells compatible with medium- and heavy-duty applications. The produced materials and components should enable fuel cells to meet the 2030 cost and durability targets of $80/kW and 25,000 hours of durability for heavy-duty applications. Proposed projects should be two to four years in length for total DOE funding of $3–10 million. These projects must include at least 20% cost share.

Recovery and Recycling Consortium. The final topic provides up to $50 million to establish a broad-based nonprofit/university-led consortium of industry, academia, and labs to address a range of recovery, recycling, refurbishment, and reuse challenges for fuel cells and electrolyzers.

Concept papers for this funding opportunity are due by April 19, 2023, and full applications are due on July 19, 2023. Selection notifications are expected to be issued in fall 2023, and award negotiations are expected to occur in winter 2023–2024.

This funding opportunity makes available half of the $1.5 billion in funding that was made available under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for these initiatives. Future funding opportunities will fund clean hydrogen storage technologies, technologies that integrate hydrogen production with compression and drying technologies, and integrated systems that combine hydrogen production with renewable power or nuclear power generation, including hybrid systems that integrate hydrogen storage.