A hotspot for all things hydrogen can be found in Australia. Boasting the correct credentials for green hydrogen and renewable energy generation, it is no surprise that the country is at the forefront of the hydrogen revolution.
One company supporting this growing market is GHD Ventures, who recently revealed it is supporting innovative Australian-based GHD to bring its hydrogen portfolio overseas to the US and Europe. GHD is LAVO’s cornerstone investor in the Series A round and has been supporting LAVO journey in the past few years.
To find out more about the company and its role in the hydrogen market, H2 View spoke with Phil Bradley, Executive General Manager of Strategic Investments, at GHD.
H2 View (H2V): Thanks for giving H2 View your time. To start, could you please provide an overview of GHD and how it fits into the hydrogen space?
Phil Bradley (PB): GHD is one of the world’s leading professional services companies operating in the global markets of water, energy and resources, environment, property and buildings and transportation. We are 100% employee-owned, operating for more than 90 years, employing over 10,000 people in 200+ office locations.
We have been working in the hydrogen space globally over the last decade across several continents.
We see that hydrogen will play a key role in unlocking decarbonisation pathways as the zero-emissions energy commodity of the future. Hydrogen will not just transform energy systems; it will transform economies and communities. GHD has a strong focus on supporting this global ambition to make a difference.
We do a significant amount of work on distributed energy solutions for remote communities, mining, agriculture, telcos and water and sewerage treatment. It was evident to us that hydrogen also had a place in the interplay between energy generation from renewables and storage. The key was finding the right technology mix.
The pivot away from fossil fuels is well underway and promises to reimagine our energy systems – for the better. Policymakers, shareholders, investors and the community at large are demanding and accelerating this change.
To achieve lasting global benefit, we believe both dramatic and incremental improvement – solutions large and small – are required to harness the opportunities we see on the horizon, while addressing the challenges at hand.
H2V: Hydrogen is clearly an area that GHD is looking to expand further into. Could you tell us a bit about some of the projects/collaborations that you are a part of and what they are trying to achieve?
PB: We are fortunate to have worked on more than 50 hydrogen-related projects in the last five years alone, including the world-first hydrogen export supply chain project, known as HESC, with Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Marubeni, Iwatani and JPOWER, in Australia – this remains the only fully-operational hydrogen supply chain that has just proven how to produce, transport, store, ship and use hydrogen as a zero-emissions power source for Japan.
Given the fledgling nature of the industry, we place a strong significance on collaboration with policymakers, shareholders, investors, and the community at large. We must collaborate to tackle a challenge as large and important as Net Zero.
We are interested in originating and developing projects with client partners from across a range of economic geographies and hard-to-abate sectors from an end user perspective.
From a technical standpoint, we wish to shape projects from the very beginning to bring our technical learnings based on real track record to achieve scale and pace, leveraging a range of hydrogen feedstocks. We are also working with governments to help develop state- or country-level hydrogen strategies and funding mechanisms for developing hydrogen hubs.
Hydrogen is not easy – it involves commercial, technical and social challenges – we are excited about the idea of continuing our work with partners across the globe to make projects real and scale up a thriving and sustainable low-carbon hydrogen industry.
H2V: GHD is working with LAVO to support the company’s growth into new markets. How did this partnership come about and what is its primary aim(s)?
PB: While we are believers in the hydrogen future, virtually all the attention in this space was on green hydrogen based renewable mega projects. These are vital but there were other solutions that are needed, particularly long duration storage solutions for smaller renewable energy producers and off grid assets.
Storage is a huge part of the Net Zero challenge and traditional hydrogen storage via compression, liquification or storage as ammonia were not suitable for many use cases.
We came across LAVO through their involvement in the Hydrogen Energy Research Centre at the University of NSW and recognised they were focussing on using metal hydride which was taking a different hydrogen storage approach to everything else we were seeing. We were looking for safe storage solutions that could help fill the market gap and this was extremely promising.
We were keen to collaborate, bringing all the skills that GHD could table to help LAVO scale their innovation. In their early days we were supporting LAVO with many disciplines including engineering, approvals, data science, simulation modelling and project management. LAVO were also looking for Series A funding at the same time we were launching GHD Ventures, an internal venture arm, and LAVO became our first investment.
Our people are proud to have taken a risk on a hydrogen start-up and are now connecting LAVO with our international experts and client opportunities.
H2V: What is unique about LAVO and their technology and how do you think this could take international markets by storm?
PB: LAVO has developed a world first integrated hydride hydrogen battery. The system is a standalone integrated hydrogen generation/storage/electricity generation system with an advanced digital management system.
The storage system’s metal hydride technology is an alternative to liquid or pressured hydrogen but is much lower compression. By storing energy over a longer duration than batteries and releasing it when required for optimal value for user or the energy system, it can potentially enable both reliable and zero-carbon energy systems.
It’s safety and portability make it versatile for applications where diesel is the current storage method particularly commercial and industrial, and off-grid and back-up. It is creating its own segment.
H2V: Lastly, is there any further comments/information that you would like to express to our readers?
PB: GHD has made a collective commitment; a promise to bring everything we have – talented people, diverse perspectives, and deep project experience – to this important global endeavour. As a connected team of advisors and engineers who work across the value chain, we are uniquely placed to make a positive difference.
The pivot away from fossil fuels is well underway and promises to reimagine our energy systems – for the better. To achieve lasting global benefit, we believe both dramatic and incremental improvement – solutions large and small – are required to harness the opportunities we see on the horizon, while addressing the challenges at hand.
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