Russia-Ukraine war ‘will accelerate’ move to green hydrogen, renewable energy: Plug Power CEO

Plug Power CEO Andy Marsh joins Yahoo Finance Live to discuss company earnings and the outlook for renewable energy amid the Russia-Ukraine crisis.

Video transcript

AKIKO FUJITA: Welcome back to Yahoo Finance Live. Shares of Plug Power are sliding in the session, down about 4% right now. The company did report mixed fourth-quarter earnings on Tuesday. Despite reporting wider losses than expected, the hydrogen fuel cell company says it is on track to meet its 2025 revenue goal of $3 billion.

Let's bring in the CEO of Plug Power, Andy Marsh joining us today. And Andy, it's great to have you back on the show. We're going to get to those numbers in the quarter in just a bit. But let me just talk to you about how you're watching these energy moves that have been playing out as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

There is a larger debate that this has elevated, which is to say if you take Russian oil and gas out of the mix, especially for European countries, does that number one, then accelerate the transition to green energy, or does that increase the reliance on other forms of fossil fuels? What have you heard from some clients? Are you seeing a pickup in interest, especially on hydrogen fuel cell technology over the last week?

ANDY MARSH: Akiko, I think the answer to that question is yes, but first I'd like to say like most people watching what's going on in Ukraine is horrible. I think what it's highlighting is the need to move away from the Russian gas station. And I think when people look at it you see two items, one is that we need to reduce our CO2 emissions and now renewable energy is an opportunity for-- is a national security issue also to produce it yourself. I was talking this week with one of the leading pipeline providers in Europe. And we had a long discussion about how you can convert their natural gas pipelines into hydrogen pipelines not in some distant future but today.

AKIKO FUJITA: With that said, I'm sure you were listening to our guest earlier, Tomas Philipson from the University of Chicago, who brought up a point that I think a lot of people have made, which is to say that look, green energy is where things should go long term but it's just not at a cost level where countries can transition to. So number one, do you agree? And number two, how quickly would you be able to build up the infrastructure to be able to accelerate green energy, at least, if we're talking specifically about blue hydrogen?

ANDY MARSH: I think that when I look at it, I probably have a little bit different perspective than the economist, is that the price of fossil fuels to society we're seeing today, which is not in the market price, cost of maintaining armies, the cost of what pollution is doing to people. So I would tell you today without subsidies it's cost-effective because it isn't doing the long-term damage to society.

That being said that I believe pipelines today, especially in Europe, are in position to be automatically changed over to hydrogen pipelines. You mentioned blue hydrogen, I think there's a place for blue hydrogen. Ultimately, I believe the answer is green hydrogen, coupled with low-cost renewable energies. I think what's going on at the moment will just accelerate that activity.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Andy, it's Brian Cheung here. Let's talk about your earnings, which you reported earlier this week. It seems like this is going to be an important year for you in terms of growth. You have I think three plants that you plan to build in 2022. Tell us about what you expect to see later this year in terms of your company's growth and perhaps the bottom line as well?

ANDY MARSH: So Brian, the key to us is Plug has a first-mover advantage. We are the only company that can serve all your hydrogen and fuel cell needs and provide a complete turnkey solution. We're going to almost double revenue this year and we expect that the company will approach profitability in 2023.

So it's clear to us that scale matters, we see that with our own plants that we're building across the US and also in Europe, we will be able to make hydrogen a-- green hydrogen, a profitable business for us and we see market growth in electrolyzers and on-road vehicles. So we are building facilities to support that growth by ourselves but also in Australia with partners like Fortescue, one of the largest mining companies in Australia, as well as next week or the week after, I'll be in France for the grand opening of our facility-- joint facility with Renault, for JV HYVIA, to be building on-road hydrogen vehicles for commercial use.

AKIKO FUJITA: You've had a production target of 500 tons by 2025 in place. Does that still hold or you think that can be accelerated, especially with this renewed attention towards cleaner energy really to try and fill the void of some of the energy that could come offline as a result of what's playing out over in Eastern Europe?

ANDY MARSH: Akiko, I think we spend every day looking at how we can accelerate our deployment to green hydrogen. And during our earnings call, we mentioned that we expect to have over 200 tons online by the end of 2023 and are looking for ways to expand and grow those plants even more rapidly. So the answer to your question is our public commitment is 500 tons of green hydrogen in the US by 2025 and 1,000 tons globally by 2028. We actually are committed to finding ways to accelerate it because we know the market wants green hydrogen.

BRIAN CHEUNG: Andy Marsh, Plug Power CEO, looking forward to having you on as you continue your company's journey. Thanks so much for stopping by Yahoo Finance this afternoon.