Plug Power CEO expects ‘great time’ for hydrogen industry, after Democrats win Senate

Energy News

Plug Power CEO Andrew Marsh on Thursday applauded the Democratic sweep of the Georgia Senate runoffs earlier this week, expressing an optimistic outlook for the future of green energy.

Marsh, who has led the Latham, New York-based hydrogen fuel cell producer since 2008, in an appearance on CNBC welcomed the news that Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff won their respective races Tuesday, tilting power in the upper chamber in the party’s favor for the first time since 2015.

Current Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York will likely succeed Sen. Mitch McConnell, a Republican, as the chamber’s majority leader. As a result, Marsh sees more policies coming out of Washington that will benefit the renewable energy sector.

“There’s no better friend to the fuel cell industry over the last 20 years than Sen. Schumer and, boy, [he’ll be] in charge of what legislation gets to the floor,” he told Jim Cramer in a “Mad Money” interview. “I think it’s going to be a great time for the hydrogen fuel cell industry, and being a New York company, we couldn’t be luckier to have such a great senator.”

The comments come after Plug Power shares put up big gains in back-to-back trading sessions. The stock surged more than 7% on Wednesday and then 35% in Thursday’s session, closing the day at $47.29. Shares jumped 47% this week alone, powered in part by the company’s expansion into the South Korean market.

Plug Plower announced Wednesday that South Korea-based conglomerate SK Group is dishing out $1.5 billion to get a 9.9% stake in the fuel cell producer as part of a partnership to reach Asian markets.

Marsh said the Korean hydrogen market under the country’s plans could amount to more than $40 billion by 2040.

“They also knew Plug Power was the one company with real revenue, real experience deploying fuel cell and hydrogen,” he said.

“It’s a big, big, huge opportunity,” he said.

Plug Power stock grew tenfold in 2020, rising 973% to $33.91 from just above $3 per share earlier that year.

President-elect Joe Biden is seen as a positive for the renewable energy industry. As part of his climate change plan, the former vice president laid out a goal of using renewables to produce carbon-free hydrogen at the same cost of producing shale gas.

With Democrats in control of the House and the Senate, where Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will serve as a tiebreaking vote, Biden and Democrats will have an easier path to push through their policy priorities.

The cost of hydrogen fuel and other renewable energies has presented a challenge over the years to get the ball rolling on the industry. Green energy is expected to be a disruptive force in transportation.

Green hydrogen is tied to the cost of wind and solar, which now comes at a cost that’s competitive with traditional fuels in electricity, Marsh said.

“If you can have electricity at 4 cents a kilowatt-hour, leveraging electrolysis, you can generate hydrogen comparable with natural gas,” Marsh explained. Electrolysis, a way to split hydrogen and oxygen in water using electricity, is seen as a possible method to produce hydrogen out of renewable resources, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

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