- Plug Power shares climbed 50% after SK Group deal this week
- Deal reflects growing interest in hydrogen as alternative fuel
Plug Power Inc., a fuel-cell company that’s struggled to turn a profit, has surged in value to nearly $25 billion after striking a deal this week with a South Korean conglomerate to promote hydrogen technology in Asia.
Shares in the Latham, New York, company have jumped more than 50% since Wednesday, when SK Group agreed to pay $1.5 billion for a 10% stake in it. As of noon in New York, Plug’s market value was $24.9 billion, making it bigger than utility giants PG&E Corp. and Consolidated Edison Inc. A year ago, Plug was worth about $1 billion.
The meteoric rise reflects the booming investor appetite for hydrogen and clean-energy stocks as U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden prepares to take office and nations worldwide combat climate change. The WilderHill New Energy Global Innovation Index, which includes Plug and dozens of other clean-power companies, is up 70% since the election of Biden, who has pledged to have the U.S. rejoin the Paris climate accord.
Plug and SK Group are forming a joint venture to deploy hydrogen fuel-cell systems, fueling stations and electrolyzers in South Korea and elsewhere in Asia, starting next year.
Governments and companies worldwide are seeking ways to use hydrogen in power plants and vehicles instead of fossil fuels. It produces no greenhouse gases when burned or used in fuel cells. Hydrogen is easily stored and companies including Plug are developing emission-free techniques to produce it from water.
“This is the right time for hydrogen,” Plug Chief Executive Officer Andy Marsh said in an interview Thursday.
Deals involving hydrogen companies have surged in the past two years, especially for firms investing in electrolysis, the process of producing the fuel from water. SK’s investment in Plug ranks as one of the biggest hydrogen deals ever, according to BloombergNEF.
By Will Wade