(Bloomberg) -- Plug Power Inc. plans to make green hydrogen from waste water in drought-stricken California, a potential model for producing the clean-burning fuel at a time when clean water is in short supply. 

The facility in Fresno County, announced Monday, will take recycled water from a new wastewater treatment plant and strip hydrogen from it, while the remainder goes to a nearby community. The plant will produce 30 metric tons of hydrogen each day, using electrolyzers to break water into hydrogen and oxygen, with power from a 300-megawatt solar farm, Plug Power said.

Governments worldwide are exploring hydrogen as a tool to fight climate change, because the fuel can be burned in turbines or fed through fuel cells to generate electricity without producing greenhouse gases. But almost all hydrogen produced today is stripped from natural gas, in a process that releases carbon dioxide.

Green hydrogen, produced without carbon emissions, is better for the atmosphere but needs substantial amounts of clean water as its raw material at a time when water supplies worldwide are under increasing strain. Green hydrogen production consumes 10 liters of water to make a kilogram of hydrogen, while stripping hydrogen from natural gas requires between 4.5 and 7 liters of water per kilogram, according to BloombergNEF estimates.

Plug’s plan includes supplying treated water to the city of Mendota, which can use it to irrigate parks. The city lies in California’s agricultural Central Valley, where a deepening drought has led severe over-drafting of local aquifers. Plug aims to break ground on the project in 2023 and commission it in 2024. 

“We’re recycling water that’s already used,” Chief Executive Officer Andy Marsh told Bloomberg Television Monday. “So, I feel very comfortable with our plant.”

The plant is the latest of Plug’s projects to produce hydrogen from Texas to Upstate New York. 


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