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Podcast: World Hydrogen Summit 2024 - Reading the room

The Future in Focus

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World Hydrogen Summit 2024: Reading the Room

17 May 2024 - 16 minutes

Hydrogen has emerged as a key alternative to fossil fuels as the world races towards net zero carbon emissions. With that global momentum comes concerns around how the hydrogen industry will scale to meet demand in a safe, sustainable and consistent way.

In LRQA’s latest podcast episode, global media outlets, including The Australian Financial Review and H2 View, share commentary recorded live at the World Hydrogen Summit – the world’s largest dedicated hydrogen event – about the shift from hype to reality.

Combined with client insights from the LRQA team, we explore how this dynamic industry needs to balance the immense innovation currently in development, with risk management and assurance to ensure a shift from an R&D mindset to a commercial one. Listen to find out more.

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LRQA: The Future in Focus

Hello to our global listeners of the LRQA feature and focus podcast. My name is Holly Johnston, and I am the Global External Communications Manager for LRQA. And I'm recording this episode today in a little bit of a different environment. You might be able to hear from the background noise. I'm recording today's podcast from the World Hydrogen Summit in Rotterdam, the world's largest dedicated hydrogen event.

And we're just one of 15, 000 industry professionals, 2, 000 delegates. 70 plus sponsors and 350 plus speakers attending today and tomorrow. One of the speakers includes our very own Leanne Halliday, who is our hydrogen subject matter expert. It's fantastic to have Leanne on board. I'm going to take you for a spin of the room and get some feedback on the conversations being had today and tomorrow.

Let's see what's happening. So let's start by talking to Leanne Halliday, LRQA's very own hydrogen expert. Leanne has just delivered a presentation here at the World Hydrogen Summit, and I'm with Leanne now.

Leanne, could you talk to us about what your presentation was on?

So the presentation I gave today was talking about opening up the hydrogen supply chain through assurance.

So as we're starting to see the market evolve and mature, we're starting to see more of the larger projects actually coming to market or being talked about more. And in this essence, there is a risk that the supply chain could become a bottleneck. So my presentation, I looked at it from two points of view.

So I looked at it from manufacturers bringing their product to market and both entering new geographical locations or bringing innovations into the hydrant sector and how from an assurance perspective, we can help them to make sure that they can build trust and get onto procurement lists to bring their product to market.

We then flipped it on its head a little bit and looked at what the buyers are concerned with. So, EPCs, operators, when they're entering the hydrogen market from a procurement perspective, what risks are they seeing and how can we help them as an assurance provider to build trust in the new market that they're buying from?

So, for example, vendor assessment, spending time up front before they place their orders to make sure they've got all of their ducks in a row and are going to be able to purchase what they require from a safety, quality and also standards perspective. And also across the two, looking at how the market is evolving still quicker in a lot of places than the regulation and standards landscape.

So how we can help them through regulatory road mapping, supplementary where there is gaps in standards with best to really avoid this again, becoming a bottleneck.

Fantastic. So we've been walking around the event today, which is absolutely huge on DH. It's honestly like walking around with local celebrity. You really are well connected with all the clients and industry partners here. So what are the main kind of conversations you've been having and how important are events like this for us to attend?

Well, first of all, this is the third year that we've attended this event, and I'm amazed year on year it just grows in size.

So although there is still a lot of hype around the high trend sector, just looking at the number of people here today and the number of, stands and, exhibitions, then it is shown that there is a real market still out there. The market is evolving. It's maturing, but it's maturing in the right direction.

I think if we look at some data which we looked at, from the IE database, people get excited when you look at the number of projects between now and 40 in the 1, 800 mark. But even when you put some reality on that and bottle it down to the ones greater than 10 megawatts that are going to make a difference in energy transition and in the next five years, and that's still 69 projects.


That's still 69 projects to be built around the world in the next five years in the hydrogen sphere. So there's a lot of excitement still. There's a lot of people with innovative ideas trying to bring them to market. and a lot of interest in the services that we can offer as well and how we can support bringing their products to market and understanding the standards and regulatory landscape as they evolve and move into different areas.

One last thing I'll get you to comment on, Leanne. Obviously there's so many areas within hydrogen that we support clients with, but one thing I've heard you talk about is people going from risk management within the hydrogen industry to then social compliance under ESG. Could you talk a little bit about that link and is that a growing area?

Yeah, and that's something that I've only really to start to see a real pushing in this year, and also with conversations with clients over the last 12 to 18 months. As again, the industry matures and the need for social responsibility from your client base increases. So, electrolyzers, for example, have rare earths in them.

People are procurement further afield from geographical areas and also from companies that they've never well dealt with before. So it's really important for them to understand that they're sourcing responsible. And they're looking at things like the health and safety, greenhouse gas emissions, social responsibility and also modern slavery, human rights and modern slavery.

And we're seeing definite interest in this, in this conference. And conversations are definitely evolving in this space. It really does prove, doesn't it, that we are in a new era of risk management where ESG and supply chain and, you know, energy transition projects are just so interwoven. So thanks for sharing your perspective, Leanne. Thanks so much.

Thank you.

So my next stop is here with Charlie Curry who is the editor at H2 View and I'd love to hear from you Charlie. What are the kind of conversations you're having today at the conference?

Yeah, it's it's interesting It's potentially the most honest conference I've been to I think the realization or the hype bubble that surrounded hydrogen has begin to burst a little. There's a lot of challenges facing the market technology latency demand simulation. So people now have to take those challenges head on.

Obviously offers a lot of opportunities for some but there's going to be a bit of struggle on the road ahead, I think.

And with LRQA obviously being in risk management, we obviously want to take those challenges and support and facilitate clients to overcome them. So how do you see the role of risk management as the hydrogen industry develops?

Well, look, If, Hydrogen is really going to reach its full potential, there's going to be a massive scale up of, equipment, needed for this, this market. So, we are hearing that it's going to have to come from other regions, it's not going to be Europe producing a lot of this stuff. So, if you're going to be dealing with new markets, I think it's going to be a big opportunity to really ensure that that technology is coming out at the standards required.

We know that Hydrogen has a bit of a reputation problem among the wider public. So it's going to be really paramount that Industries technology providers are communicating the safety record of their equipment before it's being put on ground near communities.

And aside from technology are a lot of people talking about supply chain here?

Yeah, so there's a lot to be said for that. We're seeing different regions taking different approaches to Greenhouse gas carbon intensity that type of thing and we're hearing again the Hydrogen is going to have to be imported into regions like Europe, Asia. So it's going to be a big challenge for companies to get their heads around those different schemes globally, where they're going to be exporting to.

So compliance with those regulations is going to be key to their success.

Yeah, that's obviously where LRQA plays in that space. So that's where we support our clients. So it's good to hear that that's totally aligned to what you're hearing at the conference. Thanks so much for your time.

No problem.

And next up of my tour around the World Hydrogen Summit here in Rotterdam, I am with Hans van Leeuwen, who is the European correspondent for the Australian Financial Review. Really strong media title, both within Australia and globally. So Hans, could I just ask you to summarise the kind of conversations and observations you've been making about the, from the summit this year?

Well, it's interesting, Holly. I mean, for me, this is my third year coming to the Summit. And in the first year I came, three years ago, there was this huge buzz and hype and everyone was talking up their wild projects and all their excitement. And then last year, we sort of went into a phase where everyone was like, ooh, it's a bit more complicated than we thought.

But we're still talking about our really interesting projects and ideas and dreams. And this year, it's, it's the real rubber hit the road conference of the three I've been to. People are sort of saying, okay, what can we actually do? Over what time frames? What projects are realistic and what's pie in the sky for now?

So there's been a real sort of narrowing down to kind of focus on the kind of the viable, the commercial, and the kind of realistic. Someone said to me, you know, the R&D mindset, we've got to move on from that. We've got to move to the commercial mindset now.

Fabulous. So, I mean, obviously, the hydrogen industry has immense global relevance here. But, you know, you're here with the Australian Financial Review. Is Australia a key market that you're monitoring? Any other regions globally?

Well, it's interesting, I mean, Australia has been a big presence at this, summit for quite, almost an outsized presence given our economy and population for some years now.

We have 48 companies came over with the Australian government, sort of brought over a huge array of companies and so it's very easy as an Australian journalist to sort of, you know, talk to them and, and, and sort of see what their perspective is. What I've noticed this year is the sort of wider range of companies and some companies really upping their presence.

The Canadians have gone much bigger, the Indians are here, I think really in sort of numbers for the first time. So we're seeing the World Hydrogen Summit really start to live up, up to its name and it's not just a kind of Europe, Europe plus summit anymore. So that's been really interesting.

So obviously with LRQA, we're here to facilitate clients as they manage their risk across operations within their hydrogen projects. So you'll know all about the kind of challenges and risks that Australia are kind of facing, you know, with hydrogen. But are there synergies with the global marketplace as well?

Yeah, I mean, the thing in Australia has been over the last few years that, you know, when the hydrogen bubbles first started to sort of, you know, expand as it were, you know, the idea was, Oh, we're going to be this massive exporter.

And we, I think a lot of people imagine that hydrogen was going to be like the new LNG, you know, just this thing you stick on a ship and send around the world and Australia was going to do what it does best. What's kind of coming through now and the kind of partnerships Australia is trying to develop around the world is to sort of see, you know, because the use case for hydrogen now is, is very much like use it where you make it.

And so it's not really the case that Australia is going to ship it all the way to Europe, you know, as ammonia necessarily. But, you know, what are we going to do? What parts of the supply chain is Australia going to operate? And if so, who's it going to partner with in Europe, in Asia as well, Japan, Korea, and what sort of, what is going to go on boats and leave Australia and what's going to be done where?

So that's been another development that I've seen this year.

And today Hans, we've had some important financial news out from Australia. Can you talk a little bit about the impact on the hydrogen industry there as well?

Sure. Yeah, I mean, basically, after the Inflation Reduction Act in the US, the race is on to kind of, for a lot of governments who have a nascent hydrogen industry to support it as best they can.

And essentially what the government announced today was that they're kind of doing, you know, at an Australian kind of level, not at a US kind of level, a kind of something a bit similar to the IRA and really upping subsidies to the green hydrogen industry. So, you know, the industry, all the people who are here from Australia are absolutely elated about that and I'm sure they'll be, you know, if you're looking around the conference, for the people with the biggest smiles on their faces, that's the Australian delegation tonight.

Fantastic. Thank you so much, Hans. You've got such a unique perspective to bring here and I really appreciate you sharing it with LRQA. Thank you.

Thank you.

And next up, I'm joined by Etienne van Steenhoven, who is the Territory Sales Leader for UK&I and Northern Europe for LRQA. Etienne, we're here in Rotterdam for the World Hydrogen Summit, but tell me, why is Northern Europe the heart of the hydrogen conversation?

I think ideally Rotterdam is, and specifically like the Netherlands, is ideally placed within Europe to be like the hub for hydrogen based on import and export. Of course we got a big harbour in Rotterdam, which has a gateway directly to Germany as well. And I think the existing network in the Netherlands, it's already very mature.

So it's not only the case about, okay, we need to build new items, but it's also the case of, okay, what can we do with the existing network, to ensure that we are, achieving our goals, which are demanding cop 28 as well. So like, and there's a high demand of. decarbonization, ensuring that, what we do as a business is, it's more, in Dutch, we call me a friendly.

So like we need to look at the environment to ensure that we're doing the right stuff for the future as well. that's why there's a lot of investments in current assets to make sure that they are also suitable for future business. I think that's one of the reasons why Netherlands Northern Europe is ideally placed for this, this growth in a company.

Thanks Etienne. So you also have a really unique perspective here because you're talking to clients day in day out, and especially here at the summit, not just clients, but other industry members and partners. So, what are their particular pain points? What are the themes that you're picking up on from those conversations?

So we deal with a lot of clients which are global companies and we have very good existing relationship based on the network that we have in the Netherlands. and they are investing quite some money on different countries, different assets as well. so there are many concerns regarding the legislation which need to be in place, a lot of concerns regarding safety at the moment that they choose a final location for the assets.

So it's not only about, okay, what can we do for codes and standards on a European basis or on a global basis, but what are also the local requirements to ensure that the plans that they're going to build are operating in a safe way. I think there are many much of concerns related to high standard safety, quality issues, etc.

Now at LRQA we're big on telling our clients, our audiences, that we are in a new era of risk management. We're in the era of Assurance 4. 0. Things are changing. And this event is changing. It's been growing a lot over the last few years. So, I believe you've been here at the event each time. How have you understood those changes? How is LRQA changing to meet clients needs as they change?

I think we started this exhibition three years ago, and to give a little bit of context, now we are, this year, we are in three big halls. In the first year, it was only one hall, and you could see a lot of start ups, scale up companies which wanted to play a role in hydrogen, but were not really familiar with, okay, what can we do and how do we need to do it, and also like a legislative perspective, and like there were many clients who never heard about PED.

While when you talk about PED, pressure equipment directive, ASME codes as standard, that's like common business, common language within the landscape that we operate in. so, it's interesting to see that over time, more like multinational, global players are, want to evolve in hydrogen. And, and you see that within this conference as well.

So like, last year there were really like, a few big players on renewable energy which participated. And now this year, it's even become bigger. So, I think in general, the supply chain became much more mature and the investments are much bigger than it was like three years ago. more projects are coming to the final investment decision, the stage, which means that.

There's a high demand of the supply chain towards the supply chain to make it happen, which comes with risk as well. So when we talk about the full cycle of risk and assurance, there's definitely a big role to play as LQA to ensure that we are helping our clients to understand the risk that they are facing across the whole supply chain to make this happen.

Thank you so much Etienne.

Thank you.

And that's a wrap on the World Hydrogen Summit here in Rotterdam for 2024. Thank you so much to our listeners for coming along the journey in a slightly different way to our usual podcast episodes, hearing from LRQA representatives, as well as the global media on the latest hydrogen conversations.

If you'd like to hear more from our podcast, you can see our other episodes on Spotify and on the LRQA website. Thanks and take care.