FirstElement Fuel recently received a $7.7 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to increase its Santa Ana, California, manufacturing facility output by more than 10 times, according to the hydrogen refueling company.
FirstElement currently operates a network of 85 dispensers across 40 locations in California.
“The CEC is playing a huge role to transition the state of California, and the world, away from fossil fuels,” Joel Ewanick, founder and CEO of FirstElement, said in a news release. “It’s truly an honor to continue our partnership with the CEC to make zero emissions transportation a reality.”
The company’s manufacturing facility in Santa Ana currently produces critical high-tech components and systems for hydrogen refueling stations, including liquid hydrogen cryopump systems. The scale-up of the FirstElement Fuel Innovation Center, partially funded by the CEC, will increase local jobs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by “enabling more zero-emissions transportation,” the company said. FirstElement was awarded the grant through the CEC’s Zero-Emission Transportation Manufacturing competitive grant solicitation.
FirstElement also will contribute at least $14 million to the project.
Hydrogen-powered vehicles have the capacity to transform modern transportation by eliminating tailpipe emissions, slashing carbon emissions, and more than doubling driving efficiency as compared to traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. California State government policy has for decades supported a transition to hydrogen in the transportation sector as part of its zero-emission vehicle strategy, placing the state in a leadership position for hydrogen-related development. California’s policies have also laid the foundation for FirstElement’s success in becoming a leading hydrogen refueling station company. Setting up adequate supply chains and manufacturing of hydrogen refueling station equipment to supply the development of a hydrogen refueling network is critical to the successful scale-up of hydrogen-powered vehicles.
“FirstElement is a true California story—the company could not have been born anywhere else,” said Dee Dee Myers, senior advisor to Gov. Newsom and director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. “They are emblematic of California's role in creating new markets and expanding clean energy manufacturing, building on the foundation of our world-class workforce and ongoing commitment to a carbon-free economy."
FirstElement’s manufacturing expansion project is expected to extend through March 2026, enabling the company to increase by a factor of 10 the number of liquid hydrogen pumps built per year.
“The CEC is proud to fund FirstElement Fuel’s expansion into manufacturing hydrogen refueling components here in California,” said Patty Monahan, the CEC lead commissioner for the clean transportation program. “This will not only provide jobs for the local community, but also help the state transition to zero-emission transportation.”