Boss of Sheffield hydrogen firm ITM Power building two factories says they've only just begun

The boss of a £2.75bn Sheffield hydrogen company building two factories says they have ‘only just begun’.

By David Walsh
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 7:42 am

Dr Graham Cooley said ITM Power was now a world leader in electrolyser production - but there was a lot more to come.

The firm has just raised £250m for a new factory set to employ 300 in Sheffield, and another one overseas. It follows a £170m fundraise last year which paid for a newly-opened factory on Bessemer Park, Tinsley.

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Dr Graham Cooley said ITM Power was now a world leader in electrolyser production - but there was a lot more to come. Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com

The stockmarket listed company is currently valued at £2.75bn.

HOW MUCH DEMAND FOR HYDROGEN IS THERE?

The ‘Gigafactory’ can manufacture equipment producing 1 gigawatt of power each year. It is claimed to be the biggest of its kind in the world.

But Mr Cooley said the International Energy Authority estimates the world needs 3,500 gigagwatts of electrolysers to hit net zero by 2050.

ITM Power and The University of Sheffield hosted a COP26 Regional Roadshow at ITM Power's new Bessemer Park Gigafactory in Sheffield. Mayor of South Yorkshire Dan Jarvis MP addresses the audience. Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com

Increasing production by three-and-a-half thousand times in just 29 years created the potential for ‘exponential’ growth, he added.

Speaking at a COP26 event at the factory, he said: “We are a very, very significant energy company, manufacturer and employer. We are globalising, masses of electrolysers are needed worldwide.

“This is a great event and a good announcement this morning. But there is a lot more to come.”

Dr Graham Cooley, ITM Power CEO. Pix: Shaun Flannery/shaunflanneryphotography.com

ITM Power is set to build a £55m hydrogen equipment factory on the old Sheffield Airport runway in Tinsley.

It is buying land from Sheffield University for £13.4m and expects to spend £16m on the building and a further £25m for the fit-out and power supply.

‘Gigafactory 2.0’ will have one-and-a-half times the production capacity of the first. The company is also investing heavily in automation.

The firm and the university also plan to open a National Hydrogen Research Innovation and Skills centre next to new facility.

Dr Cooley added: “I am delighted to be working more closely with the University of Sheffield and delighted that our second UK factory site is in Sheffield. Both initiatives will support the local economy through job creation and supply chain support.

“The planning and construction of our second, 1.5 GW capacity, factory marks the next step on delivering our strategic plan to create a blueprint for an automated PEM electrolyser factory to be rolled out internationally. At the same time, we are also focused on increasing utilisation and throughput at our Bessemer Park Gigafactory as we prepare for the next step change in capacity.”

WHY IS SOUTH YORKSHIRE AT A GREEN TECHNOLOGY TIPPING POINT?

The ITM Power factory announcement came as business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was giving the go ahead to the next generation of nuclear power at an event at the Nuclear AMRC in Rotherham.

Rolls-Royce will now spend more than £400m finalising the design of small modular nuclear reactors and establishing factories in which to build them. The hope is at least one will be in South Yorkshire. The first SMR, costing about £2bn, is set to produce electricity by 2030. Rolls-Royce hopes a fleet of 12 could eventually be installed.

Mr Cooley said South Yorkshire was home to an ‘amazing group of industrial companies’.

And he believed the region was at a ‘tipping point’ in green technology leadership.

He added: “My message to everyone going through the energy transition, which is required, is that the industrial transition offers and incredible opportunity for manufacturing in South Yorkshire.”

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