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2 minute read - 19th July 2022

Johnson Matthey to invest £80m at hydrogen gigafactory

Johnson Matthey is to invest £80m in building a gigafactory at its existing site in Royston, Hertfordshire, to scale up production of hydrogen fuel cell components. Earlier this year, Johnson Matthey announced a refreshed strategy, targeting more than £200m sales in hydrogen technologies within the next few years.

The gigafactory will initially be capable of manufacturing 3GW of proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cell components annually for hydrogen vehicles. The Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC) forecasts that the UK will need 14GW of fuel cell stack production and 400,000 high pressure carbon fibre tanks annually to meet local vehicle production demands by 2035, whilst the market expects that there could be as many as three million fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEVs) on the road globally by 2030.

The investment is supported by the government through the Automotive Transformation Fund (ATF) and will safeguard highly skilled manufacturing jobs in the UK. The site is expected to be in operation by H1, 2024.

Johnson Matthey is to invest £80m in building a gigafactory at its Royston site to scale up manufacturing of hydrogen fuel cell components / Picture: Getty/iStock

The new facility at Royston will deploy state-of-the-art manufacturing processes to scale up fuel cell components production and meet customer demand. 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.

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Liam Condon, chief executive of Johnson Matthey, said: “Decarbonising 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. For more than two decades, Johnson Matthey has been at the forefront of fuel cell innovation. The fuel cell market has now reached a pivotal moment with the increasing urgency to decarbonise transportation and today marks the next step of the journey to a low-carbon future in the UK. We’re delighted to be playing a key role in driving it forward.”

Ian Constance, chief executive of the Advanced Propulsion Centre, said: “This is incredibly significant and puts the UK in an enviable position in the global fuel cell supply chain. Our insight forecasts that the UK could dominate European fuel cell production and be a centre of excellence globally and today’s announcement is a huge step towards realising that ambition.

“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. Johnson Matthey, a world-leader in hydrogen technology, have seen this opportunity and I’m delighted they have chosen the UK to grow this capability.”

Road freight accounts for about 9% of global CO2 emissions, with 62% arising from medium and heavy-duty trucking – the hardest-to-abate transport segments. Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles (FCEV) provide similar benefits to existing technology such as fast refuelling and long range but emit zero kerbside CO2 or other pollutants, so they are a popular option for decarbonising heavy-duty commercial vehicles and are core to a net zero future.

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