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Plug Power and Energy Vault to deploy the largest hydrogen-powered fuel cell in the U.S.

| By Mary Bailey

Plug Power Inc. (Latham, N.Y.) announced it will supply Energy Vault Holdings, Inc. with 8 MW (megawatts) of hydrogen fuel cell stationary power to deliver clean energy to the city of Calistoga, located in California Wine Country, during times of wildfires and other emergencies. This will be the largest planned hydrogen powered fuel cell installation in the United States.

The California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) requires that state utility grid operators shut off power during severe weather to help prevent wildfires. Energy Vault has typically rented mobile diesel generators to provide backup power in Calistoga during these Public Safety Power Shutoff (PSPS) events. Now, Plug’s PEM (proton exchange membrane) fuel cells will offer cleaner, more operationally flexible, and more cost-effective power to the microgrid. 

“Our agreement with Energy Vault marks a huge step forward for hydrogen fuel cells in the microgrid market and represents the future of utility power back-up,” said Andy Marsh, CEO of Plug. “Green hydrogen is uniquely positioned to solve the need for clean long-duration energy storage in at-risk communities like Calistoga that are susceptible to power interruptions. Plug’s fuel cell solutions make it easy for partners like Energy Vault to harness the power of hydrogen fuel cell technology and realize CPUC’s vision of clean microgrid generation.”

Energy Vault previously announced it is building a community microgrid for Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to provide Calistoga with a minimum of 293 megawatt-hours (MWh) of dispatchable carbon-free energy during planned outages and PSPS events. The microgrid will integrate a short duration battery system with a long duration storage system of fuel cells and green liquid hydrogen. Plug’s fuel cell technology will serve as the microgrid’s stationary backup power generator.

The energy storage system will be owned, operated, and maintained by Energy Vault while providing dispatchable power under a long-term tolling agreement with PG&E. Plug will deliver 8 MW of fuel cell power, made up of 40-foot ISO containers. The fuel cells will be manufactured in the US, primarily at Plug’s gigafactory in Rochester, New York, and assembled and tested at Vista Technology Park, Plug’s world-class fuel cell manufacturing facility in Slingerlands, New York. This production approach will allow Energy Vault to take advantage of the additional 10% ITC available under the IRA for American-made content.