Universal Hydrogen will establish operations on a 50-acre parcel of property at the International Sunport in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The $245 million project is expected to create 500 jobs over the next seven years.
The company will manufacture and distribute its hydrogen storage modules, assemble airplane retrofit kits, perform aftermarket maintenance services, and manage administrative activities at the new location.
“Hydrogen is the best and only scalable solution to truly decarbonize aviation, and we want to bring it to market decades sooner than anyone thought possible, by 2025,” said Jon Gordon, co-founder and general counsel for Universal Hydrogen. “I can’t imagine a better place to be. We need a highly skilled workforce, and we need it immediately. We see New Mexico as a place that will give our employees an affordable, high quality of life with access to culture and the outdoors. It’s really a dream location.”
According to state officials, Universal Hydrogen will spend one to two years on the planning and construction of its New Mexico facilities, with a goal of commencing full-scale manufacturing by 2024. The location includes access to a runway and the potential future reclamation of a rail spur south of the Sunport.
“This project puts New Mexico and Universal Hydrogen at the center of the global effort to decarbonize transportation and aviation in particular,” Governor Lujan Grisham said. “Hydrogen, solar, wind, and alternative energy are job-rich industries and New Mexico’s partnerships with these companies are part of a forward-thinking model to create a robust and diversified economy, while being a part of the solution when it comes to a changing climate.”
The State of New Mexico is pledging $10 million from the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) job-creation fund. The City of Albuquerque will serve as the fiscal agent and is considering providing additional funding from its local economic development fund.
In addition, economic assistance is pending support from the Albuquerque City Council and will be paid out as Universal Hydrogen reaches economic development benchmarks as agreed to in a pending Project Participation Agreement. Universal Hydrogen is also pursuing federal programs to help scale its manufacturing and production capabilities.
“With two federal Department of Energy research labs and a skilled workforce, the future for new, innovative energy technology is here in New Mexico,” Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Alicia J. Keyes said. “Governor Lujan Grisham gets it and she thinks big, New Mexico is now competing for sophisticated companies with highly paid jobs, and winning.”
The company signed a letter of intent with the City of Albuquerque for 50 of the 80 acres once occupied by a north/south runway that was decommissioned in 2012.
“Universal Hydrogen’s decision to build here at the Aviation Center of Excellence is a good opportunity for the Sunport,” Richard McCurley, director of aviation for the City of Albuquerque, said. “This is prime real estate for all types of aviation-adjacent businesses, and we look forward to building a partnership.”
The Albuquerque Regional Economic Alliance (AREA), the area’s non-profit, private-sector economic development organization, provided technical assistance for Universal Hydrogen’s expansion.