In the News, Rochester Hub

August 16, 2021

Greater Rochester, NY Delivers Real Power for Energy Innovators

August 10, 2021

Original article published in Business Facilities

“Sustainability is profitability.” This was the message to corporate site selectors and economic developers at a recent national conference. The race for a clean energy future is on and placing a premium on regional economies with specialized talent, deep subject-matter expertise and ample infrastructure. For companies in need of a competitive advantage, the Greater Rochester, NY region is a strategic destination to develop, commercialize, manufacture and distribute clean energy products and technologies. The nine-county region is a smart investment for U.S. energy innovation.

Record results speak for themselves. Since 2020, the Greater Rochester, NY region has secured more than $621 million in new capital investment from three energy innovation companies, including Plug Power Inc., Hyzon Motors and Li-Cycle Technology. These total expenditures include five state-of-the art facilities that will employ more than 660 workers.

New companies are enriching the region’s energy ecosystem, and competitive rates in real estate, wages and salaries yield significant operational savings. Companies in the Greater Rochester, NY region with at least 50 employees can generate annual profits of $1 million more than the same operation in New York City, Boston, San Francisco or Washington, D.C. “Among many great options, none could match Rochester in terms of talent, local supplier networks and opportunities to partner with top-tier research institutions,” said Andy Marsh, CEO, Plug Power Inc., a leading provider of fuel cell technologies committing $415 million for two projects in two counties.

Monroe County, NY will be home to the world’s first Gigafactory for Proton Exchange Membrane technology, which will manufacture hydrogen fuel cell stacks and electrolyzers. The fuel cell stacks manufactured by Plug Power are used in hydrogen fuel cell engines for a variety of electric vehicles. The electrolyzers are utilized in the generation of green hydrogen from renewable electricity. A green hydrogen fuel production facility and electric substation will be constructed at the Western New York Science, Technology and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP) in Genesee County, NY. The 1,250-acre mega site, which is located in the New York Power Authority (NYPA) hydropower zone, features low-cost, 100 percent renewable electricity. The Greater Rochester, NY region is also the U.S. headquarters for Hyzon Motors, which was established by Asia-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies. This year, Hyzon Motors announced a 78,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, which builds upon its existing R&D operations for next-gen fuel cells heavy- and medium-duty commercial vehicles.

“Hyzon Motors is excited to announce our plans to build out a substantial manufacturing facility in the Rochester area, aided by great support from Empire State Development, Monroe County and Greater Rochester Enterprise,” explained Craig Knight, CEO, Hyzon Motors. “Hyzon will be manufacturing industry-leading fuel cell systems that have been proven in heavy trucks deployed internationally, and commissioning zero emission trucks with zero compromise for fleet operators.” The Greater Rochester, NY region will also play a critical role to foster a more sustainable energy ecosystem. Canadian-based Li-Cycle Technology has committed to two facilities that will recover and process materials from end-of-life lithium-ion batteries.

Li-Cycle selected the Greater Rochester, NY region following a comprehensive site search, which prioritized talent, existing infrastructure and available site services, and proximity to battery supply. Their study determined the Greater Rochester, NY region best positions the company to quickly develop its operations by leveraging existing infrastructure and rapidly deliver its services to a growing customer base both inside and outside the U.S. From scientists to engineers to technicians to operators, the Greater Rochester, NY region features an experienced workforce ready and capable to bring companies’ goods, products and services to new energy markets. This talent pipeline is backed by 19 colleges and universities, top-ranking degrees in STEM programs and the nation’s leader in patent generation per 1,000 workers. The region’s integrated supply chain employs thousands of workers with industry experience spanning electro-mechanical, optics and chemical processes.

“Rochester has the manufacturing capability, testing capability and intellectual horsepower,” said Matt Fronk, past chairman, the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology (NY-BEST) consortium. NY-BEST operates specialized R&D and commercialization capabilities to advance proprietary technology and ultimately accelerate speed to market.

Rochester Institute of Technology hosts a battery prototyping center as well as the Golisano Institute for Sustainability, which houses several centers of excellence for R&D in targeted areas, including resource recovery, sustainable manufacturing, energy systems and transportation and mobility. The Center for Energy & Environment at University of Rochester conducts scientific research related to carbon-neutral technology and the impact of global climate change.

Other industry resources include robust testing, commercialization and assembly capacity at Eastman Business Park, which is a hot spot for roll-to-roll hub operations used in the design and production of electrodes for battery, fuel cell and other energy storage applications.

“A growing list of companies are tapping into the depth and breadth of skilled talent in the Greater Rochester, NY region to support a broad spectrum of energy innovations from fuel cell development to energy storage and recovery,” said Matt Hurlbutt, president and CEO, Greater Rochester Enterprise. “The recent investments in the region underscore the valuable infrastructure and specialized expertise available to energy innovation companies seeking a strategic location for their next facility.”