After months of bitter back and forth negotiations, Congress has settled on a $1 trillion infrastructure bill to repair crumbling roads and bridges while also increasing access to broadband internet and passenger trains. Also included in the bill are subsidies for clean energy companies, including those bringing hydrogen fuel to market.
The U.S. government is pouring billions of dollars into hydrogen fuel research and development as part of the deal. The most significant hydrogen fuel project was awarded $8 billion as part of the deal. This “demonstration project” is a series of large hydrogen production plants powered by various fuel sources (renewable, nuclear, etc.) and is but one of many the program will be funding.
David Hart, a science policy expert at George Mason University, commented:
“The biggest thing is there will be a lot more dollars flowing through the Department of Energy [DOE]. How much that will affect the academic community is a little bit unclear. A lot of the dollars are going to go to demonstration projects, which are likely going to be led by companies. There may be a role for research institutions. I certainly think [DOE’s] national labs will play a role, and probably universities will play a role in some of these projects as well.”
It’s important to note that this funding isn’t just going to universities and other research places. Rather, a large part of the funding is going towards helping entrepreneurs get their fledgling hydrogen companies off the ground. The government realizes the great funding requirements needed by these companies and the value they bring to society as a whole, so there is plenty of support for the hydrogen industry.
PowerTap Hydrogen (NEO: MOVE) (OTC: MOTNF) (FRA: 2K6A) is a hydrogen production and refueling company that should benefit greatly from the clean energy program. While competitors produce their fuel offsite and transport it to refueling stations, PowerTap’s flagship product, the PowerTap Gen 3, is a compact, onsite liquid hydrogen production and refueling station.
In addition to eliminating costly and potentially dangerous transportation, the PowerTap Gen 3 is more compact than competing refueling stations and produces “blue” hydrogen that is cheaper and cleaner than the “gray” hydrogen being produced by many competitors. Under the strict guidelines of the clean hydrogen program, PowerTap Gen 3 qualifies as “clean hydrogen,” making the system eligible for the full breadth of available hydrogen subsidies. Salim Rahemtulla, President of the company’s operating subsidiary, PowerTap Hydrogen Fueling, commented:
“With the draft U.S. Infrastructure Bill classifying the blue hydrogen produced with PowerTap’s onsite production and dispensing technology as clean hydrogen, the hydrogen we produce will be a component of the U.S.’s efforts to reach zero carbon by 2050.”
PowerTap’s management plans to partner with existing gas stations and truck stops to build PowerTap Gen3 refueling stations, starting with the west coast and expanding to the rest of the country. The company’s primary partner is the Andretti Group, headed by Michael Andretti, son of racing legend Mario Andretti. The Andretti Group owns many gas stations in California, Oregon and Washington, many of which will one day house a PowerTap Gen3.
Most of the costs needed to build out their refueling network will be covered by generous California subsidies. Under the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) implemented by the California Air Resources Board, companies that build hydrogen fueling stations are qualified to receive Hydrogen Refueling Infrastructure (HRI) credits. HRI credits can be sold to companies producing emissions above the regulatory limit.
Since the LCFS requirements are steep, many companies opt to buy their credits instead of cleaning up their operations. This means PowerTap will have plenty of funding needed to build out their network, with less need to raise funds via debt or equity offerings; the company estimates that upwards of 70% of the capital requirements to build out a PowerTap Gen3 station would be covered by LCFS credits.
As climate change becomes more and more a reality of everyday life, the need to develop alternative fuel sources is becoming more and more urgent. PowerTap Capital Corp. has a product that not only produces carbon-neutral hydrogen fuel but also stores it and dispenses it to cars. All this, at a price point below that of competitors. Look for PowerTap to have an important part to play in a future where hydrogen is a major part of our energy system.
PowerTap Hydrogen Capital Corp. is a paid client of Wealthy VC.
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