Nikola Corporation is investing $50 million in cash and stock in Wabash Valley Resources (WVR) in exchange for a 20% equity interest in the clean hydrogen project being developed in West Terre Haute, Ind. The project plans to use solid waste byproducts such as petroleum coke combined with biomass to produce clean, sustainable hydrogen for transportation fuel and base-load electricity generation while capturing CO2 emissions for permanent underground sequestration (blue hydrogen).
Once completed, the project is expected to be one of the largest carbon capture and clean hydrogen production projects in the United States. WVR says it will capture 1.6MM tons of carbon dioxide each year. The focus is to produce zero-carbon intensity hydrogen with the potential to develop negative carbon intensity hydrogen in the future.
This investment is anticipated to give Nikola a significant hydrogen hub with the ability to offtake approximately 50 tons a day to supply its future dispensing stations within an approximate 300-mile radius, covering a significant portion of the Midwest.
Exercising its offtake right will likely require significant additional investment by Nikola to build liquefaction, storage, and transportation services.
We intend this project to produce clean, low cost hydrogen in a critical geography for commercial transportation. The Wabash solution can generate electricity as well as hydrogen transportation fuel, which should provide the flexibility to support future truck sales and hydrogen station rollout in the region. The expected efficiency of WVR’s clean hydrogen production should allow Nikola’s bundled truck lease, including fuel, service, and maintenance, to compete favorably with diesel.—Pablo Koziner, President, Energy and Commercial, Nikola
As part of this investment in the hydrogen economy in the Midwest, Nikola intends to build stations across Indiana and the broader Midwest to serve the region.
The completed facility should have the capability to produce up to 336 tons per day of hydrogen, enough to generate approximately 285 MW of clean electricity. The project is expected to require 125 full-time employees and may support 750 construction jobs. Groundbreaking is expected in early 2022 and will take approximately two years to complete.
The US Department of Energy concludes that by 2050, the US hydrogen economy could lead to an estimated $750 billion per year in revenue and a cumulative 3.4 million jobs.
The first Nikola Tre hydrogen fuel-cell prototype builds have begun in Arizona and Ulm, Germany, with testing and validation of the vehicles planned into 2022, and serial production expected to commence in 2023.