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  • Writer's pictureZest Associates

Global Leadership Panel: Hydrogen – Putting the Pieces of the Puzzle Together

Moderated by Jeffrey Beyer, Managing Director of Zest Associates, this panel brought together esteemed professionals from leading organizations in the hydrogen industry. The discussion revolved around five key themes: kickstarting the market, the policy environment, financing hydrogen projects, enablers for market growth, and technology and scaling up. Let's delve into the insights shared by our distinguished panelists.


Kickstarting the Market:

Stephan Gobert, who has spent 19 years in the Gulf region and serves as the Chief Strategy, Innovation & Customer Experience Officer at Engie, shared his perspective on kickstarting the market. As Engie's Senior Vice President for Hydrogen in the region, he emphasized the need for immediate steps to make hydrogen projects bankable.


Matching Producers and Consumers:

Gavin Rennick, President of SLB's New Energy group, brought his 24 years of experience with SLB to the discussion. Gavin highlighted the importance of aligning hydrogen producers and innovators with the organizations and individuals who consume hydrogen. He emphasized the need for manufacturing and scaling up to meet the increasing demand.

Convincing Offtakers:

Ashwani Dudeja, President and Director of the green hydrogen and ammonia business at ACME Group, contributed his insights on convincing offtakers to sign long-term contracts for hydrogen. With his background in the LNG marketing business for ADNOC and Shell, Ashwani discussed strategies to address the challenge of expensive hydrogen today, while anticipating the availability of cheaper hydrogen in the future.

The Influence of Policy:

Alessandro Bresciani, Senior Vice President of Climate Technology Solutions at Baker Hughes, provided his expertise on policy and its impact on the hydrogen market. Having worked across the entire energy and industrial sectors, Alessandro shed light on how policy drives the hydrogen market in Europe, Australia, and the US, and explored its influence in the GCC region.


Hydrogen's Representation at COP28: As anticipation grows for the UN Climate Change Conference, COP28, to be hosted in the UAE, Roger Martella, GE's Chief Sustainability Officer, shared his insights on hydrogen's expected representation at the conference. Roger, drawing from his extensive experience in environmental law and climate change, discussed the significance of hydrogen in achieving sustainability goals.


Motivating Hydrogen Domestically in the GCC:

Returning to the policy theme and focusing on the GCC region, Jeffrey directed a question to Stephan Gobert regarding the motivation for hydrogen domestically in the absence of mandatory GHG reduction requirements. Stephan shared his perspective on the driving factors behind hydrogen initiatives in the GCC.


Financing Hydrogen Projects: Gavin Rennick was called upon once again to discuss financing hydrogen projects. He explored the challenge of securing favorable lending rates from banks in the absence of perfectly bankable projects, emphasizing the need for innovative financing models.



The Role of Subsidies: Alessandro Bresciani shared his thoughts on the role of subsidies in promoting hydrogen adoption. Drawing upon examples such as Germany's H2Global and the USA's IRA, he discussed the best mechanisms for utilizing subsidies effectively to accelerate the growth of the hydrogen market.


Closing the Investment Gap:

Ashwani Dudeja addressed the gap between the required investment in hydrogen to achieve net-zero targets and the forecasted investment. He highlighted the need to bridge this gap, amounting to $700 billion, by exploring avenues for increased investment in hydrogen projects.


Enabling the Market:

Roger Martella discussed the importance of infrastructure in unlocking the hydrogen market. Recognizing infrastructure as a key enabler, he emphasized the need to encourage the construction of shared hydrogen infrastructure. By fostering collaboration among stakeholders and investing in the development of a robust infrastructure network, the hydrogen market can thrive and expand.


Addressing the need for a skilled workforce:

Alessandro Bresciani highlighted the significance of skills development in the hydrogen industry. He emphasized the requirement for specialized training programs and educational initiatives to equip individuals with the knowledge and expertise needed to drive the hydrogen sector forward.


Stakeholder coordination:

Gavin Rennick emphasized the importance of effective coordination among stakeholders in the young and diverse hydrogen market. With numerous participants, including innovators, developers, investors, policymakers, and end-users, Gavin stressed the need for streamlined communication and collaboration to align efforts, share knowledge, and facilitate technology development. Coordinated efforts will enable the hydrogen industry to achieve its full potential.

Turning to the realm of technology and scaling up:

Stephan Gobert discussed the challenge of scaling hydrogen production technology to gigawatt levels. While today's largest electrolyzers are limited to 20MW, the industry aims to supersize production in the coming years. Stephan acknowledged that this transition might present both smooth sailing and bumpy roads, requiring continuous innovation, research, and development.


Technology breakthroughs:

Roger Martella, drawing from his expertise in environmental law and sustainability, highlighted the technology breakthroughs on the horizon in various production methods, such as green, blue, turquoise, and others. As the industry evolves, advancements in production technologies will play a vital role in enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving the environmental footprint of hydrogen production.


Non-production breakthroughs:

Lastly, Ashwani Dudeja shed light on the technological breakthroughs required in non-production value-chain segments, including storage, compression, transport, and end-use. By focusing on economic breakthroughs and advancements in these areas, the hydrogen industry can overcome existing challenges and pave the way for widespread adoption.


Summary

The Global Leadership Panel on Hydrogen provided valuable insights into the intricate puzzle of building a thriving hydrogen market. From kickstarting the market and navigating policy landscapes to addressing financing challenges, enabling infrastructure, and advancing technology, the panelists offered diverse perspectives on the path forward. With collaboration, innovation, and coordinated efforts among stakeholders, the hydrogen industry can unlock its full potential, playing a significant role in the transition towards a sustainable and decarbonized future.


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