‘Transformational’ is probably the most appropriate word to describe ITM Power PLC’s (LON:ITM) tie-up with Linde, which was coupled with a financing that could bring in almost £60mln.

It also provided validation of the company’s electrolyser technology and was the culmination of a five-year relationship with the with German gases giant.

The pair will work hand in glove via a 50/50 joint venture to accelerate large-scale hydrogen plant development.

Put simply, ITM’s units are able to turn surplus power into hydrogen that can then be stored or pumped into the gas system.  They can also be used in industrial settings – in refineries or steelmaking plants for example – to decarbonise industrial processes.

In demand

Its technology provides an innovative method of optimising renewable energy’s erratic peaks and troughs. And, as a deal with oil major Shell showed, there is demand from the petrochemicals industry too, which is under pressure to become greener and cleaner.

“We are seeing increasing global demand for hydrogen as a solution to renewable energy storage needs and the decarbonisation of major industrial processes,” said ITM’s chief executive Graham Cooley.

The industry backdrop couldn’t be better for ITM and Linde.

The International Energy Agency has described 2019 as a year of “unprecedented momentum” for hydrogen.

And the gas was one of the central themes to emerge from a report in May from the Committee on Climate Change.

Hydrogen was highlighted by the CCC as having a central role in achieving a zero emissions target, with the gas specifically mentioned as one of the priority areas to enable the significant changes required, with 141 mentions of hydrogen in the 270-page report.

Reflecting on the CCC report, ITM boss Cooley said: “For the first time, the UK has accepted they will need a huge amount of the equipment that we make in order for the UK to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

“It’s the first time that the numbers have been officially run on how much power is needed for a full renewable network and energy storage.”

Proven technology

The company has, over 18 years since inception, created a proven proton exchange membrane system that has been tested in the field at a commercial level.

Where Linde comes in is to provide the heft, via its engineering arm, to scale up the electrolyser plants, which should also reduce the unit costs of production significantly.

The German group, whose revenues last year were £21bn, has “deep expertise” in engineering, procurement and construction and, of course, a global customer base.

“The joint venture will enable us to focus on our core competency of the development and sale of electrolysers, and with Linde as our partner to deliver green hydrogen at scale,” said Cooley.

“The successful fundraising provides the financial resources to exploit this exciting opportunity to the full.”

In a recent announcement, ITM said the pair will focus on electrolyser capacities of 10 Megawatts and above, targeting the refinery market.

They will jointly offer feasibility studies, project development and construction services.

ITM will contribute with its electrolysis “competences” and supplies, and Linde its proprietary technologies for gas separation and processing expertise.

Linde’s UK subsidiary will take a 20% stake in ITM by acquiring £38mln-worth of shares at 40p each.

Strategic investment 

The strategic investment was announced alongside a £14mln share placing with existing and new institutional investors and a £6.8mln open offer that allows rank and file private shareholders to follow their money.

The cash will be used principally to enhance ITM’s manufacturing capabilities, particularly for the development and production of large-scale electrolysers.

As part of the expansion, the company is moving to new larger facilities on Sheffield’s Bessemer Park, which would allow for annual production of 1,000 megawatts.

ITM will also invest in production standardisation activities as well putting cash into the JV.

Finally, the money will also provide it with the balance sheet strength to support a large and growing order pipeline.

“The fundraising and our partnership with Linde will help us to meet global demand on a growing scale, deliver efficiencies throughout our supply chain and represents a significant step on our pathway to medium-term profitability,” said CEO Cooley.