Australian hydrogen company planning $100M facility in Mesa Del Sol
New hydrogen investments are coming to New Mexico.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and other state leaders traveled to Syndey, Australia to officially announce plans for a new hydrogen manufacturing facility and research campus in Mesa Del Sol.
Officials with Australia-based Star Scientific Ltd. signed a letter of intent Thursday to begin an intensive planning process, according to the governor’s office.
Company leaders say they are looking for roughly 50 acres to build a new factory along with design offices, research laboratories and administrative buildings.
The company is planning to invest $100 million into the project which is expected to bring 200-250 new jobs to the metro.
Officials say they want to break ground in early 2025.
“In terms of hydrogen itself, it’s a pretty big investment for New Mexico, “ said Environment Secretary James Kenney who helped bring Star Scientific to New Mexico. “We’re really seeing a crawl, walk run moment, where now we’re just seeing investment after investment coming to the state.”
The planned factory will build specialized devices that use clean hydrogen technology to produce industrial-level heat without emitting greenhouse gasses. The technology utilizes the company’s patented HERO catalyst process which combines hydrogen and oxygen to produce heat and water.
Officials say the technology can be used to decarbonize any industry that relies on burning fossil fuels for energy.
“The beautiful thing about HERO is it simply replaces the gas, oil, or coal boiler that you already have,” said Andrew Horvath, Global Group Chairman with Start Scientific Ltd. “You place HERO in there, and it doesn’t matter if it’s your smallest food manufacturer, to a very large facility, you don’t make a change to the facility, it’s simply a change of where the heat is derived from.”
Horvath added the technology can be used to cleanly desalinate brackish water leftover from oil and gas wells without using fossil fuels to produce the necessary heat.
Company leaders visited several U.S. states before choosing New Mexico for its first North American expansion.
Horvath revealed Texas was the runner-up; however, he noted New Mexico had everything the company was looking for.
“From the very earliest conversations, the officials in New Mexico outlined their long-term commitment to hydrogen and the benefits of their state for a company such as Star Scientific,” Horvath said. “We were impressed by their whole-of-government approach to manufacturing, logistics, higher education and research and their vision for the role that hydrogen will play in their future. We were equally impressed that they had holistically planned important human details such as housing for families that will work at our facility, education incentives for their children and lifestyle and leisure infrastructure. There is also an infectious ‘can do’ attitude which appeals to we Australians very much.”
Star Scientific’s announcement is the latest clean energy economy development in New Mexico. President Biden visited Belen earlier this year to announce plans for a new wind turbine factory, and just a few days later, Singapore-based Maxeon Technologies announced plans for a solar cell factory also in Mesa Del Sol.
“New Mexico is on the map for companies looking for the best place to invest in clean energy solutions that drive the global economy forward,” said Lujan Grisham. “Star Scientific’s arrival in New Mexico is a win for the next generation of jobseekers looking to make a difference.”
Kenney says he is most excited about Star Scientific’s planned research campus and its potential for developing new clean energy solutions.
“That research campus is going to be where New Mexicans, as well as those around the country, and if not the world, can come and work to produce a climate technology or climate applications,” he said.
Kenney spoke to KOB 4 last week about New Mexico losing out on federal funding to establish a regional hydrogen hub. Kenney believes Star Scientific’s commitment to New Mexico will further establish New Mexico as a clean energy hub – regardless of federal funding.
“As these companies continue to come to New Mexico, you’re going to see the Netflix and Apple of hydrogen coming here because we’ve created that environment for them,” he said.