Nel has netted its largest ever electrolyser order, to supply 200MW of stacks for an industrial project belonging to a US-based developer, the Norwegian company has announced.

To put this into perspective, only 256.9MW of electrolysers are currently in operation worldwide, according to analyst Rystad Energy.

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The deal marks a significant uptick in firm orders for Nel, shortly after the company’s outgoing CEO Jon André Løkke warned that a lack of green hydrogen final investment decisions was holding back electrolyser manufacturers.

Worth more than €45m ($46m), the order could be expanded to include balance-of-plant equipment for the project, pending an ongoing engineering study.

Production on the stacks will begin in February 2023 at Nel’s 500MW electrolyser factory in Herøya, Norway, continuing until mid-2024.

Nel’s customer for the order remains shrouded in mystery, however. Nel said only that the US-based client has developed the project over several years, and plans to fund it via a combination of private investment and state and local government incentives, which have already been granted.

The project is underpinned by 20-year off-take commitments from local buyers, as well as a 20-year power purchase agreement (PPA) for electricity supply to the green hydrogen production plant.

Nel has previously expressed reservations about the ability of electrolyser manufacturers to keep up with demand if green hydrogen FIDs start cascading all at once, but the company’s new CEO, Håkon Volldal, appeared relaxed about the scale of this order.

“We are truly excited to announce Nel’s largest purchase order to date,” says Volldal. “This project will showcase Nel’s large-scale delivery and execution capabilities and become a valuable reference for future large-scale contracts.”

Even so, the deal is dwarfed by the largest electrolyser order in the world to date, Plug Power’s 1GW contract to supply H2 Energy Europe with equipment for its project in Denmark.

Nevertheless, US investment bank Jefferies described the Nel deal as “important”.

“It shows the scale of projects once planning and development have been completed; it shows customers can achieve 20-year offtake agreements and PPAs,” the bank said in a note.

“The implied value of €225k/MW is lower than the average value of projects we have seen previously but, given the size of the order and the fact that this looks purely to be for the electrolysers, this is not unreasonable,” wrote equities analyst Will Kirkness.