Episode 3: Thierry Lepercq
2021-09-10 14:27:01

For the third episode, we sat down with Thierry Lepercq, founder of DH2 Energy, Soladvent, and Solairedirect, as well as former Executive Vice President in charge of Research, Technology, and Innovation at Engie to hear about one of the world's most ambitious and innovative business-driven green hydrogen complete value chain project - HyDeal Ambition (therefore referred to as HyDeal) that he is a spokesperson of, a conglomerate of projects that envisages supplying 100% green hydrogen at the price of 1.5 euros per kilogram before 2030.

“Waves are big, especially when they are very big you better surf them” - was Mr. Lepercq's answer in regards to the matter of hydrogens' role in tackling five epochal challenges that humanity is facing. Climate change, Energy transition, Demography, Ecology, and Hyper-Urbanisation, and Explosion of Inequalities are five metaphorical mega waves that are described in Thierry's newest book "Mégavagues" which was published in 2021. One of those is a solar wave that is the global rise of solar renewable energy, which is enjoying steady installation rates over the past 25 years. Considering this unprecedented rate of increase in solar development, Mr. Lepercq predicts that by 2040 solar renewable generation will be roughly 90% of the world's energy mix, stressing the important notion that this is not going to come about by solely installing conventionally-used solar rooftops, batteries, and electric vehicles, but partially with the replacement of oil, gas, and coal that represent 85% of the world's energy mix by a molecule that will come from renewable energy, namely - hydrogen.

Mr. Lepercq stressed currently there is a big number of companies that want to transform their business through hydrogen. One example that he mentioned comes from steelmaking which is among the most highly pollution-emitting industries, where Volvo and Daimler-Benz stated that their operations will shift completely to zero-carbon by 2025. Many steelmakers see a future in hydrogen and in Mr. Lepercq's words, it is "a revolution that is fundamentally market-driven and is based on the cost equation of 1.5€ per kilogram. That is where the economic balance is." This is true not only for the steelmaking that has the potential to provide sustainable jobs, many other industries such as coal-fired power plants, chemical plants can also transform their businesses through shifting to green hydrogen.

As for the revival of industries across the world that are facing immense pressure and challenges towards shifting to clean energy transitions,"There are two ways to look at hydrogen," said Mr. Lepercq indicating, on one hand, the development of policy-driven hydrogen that represents almost all green hydrogen development today (small scale, subsidized, and local). On the other hand, commodity hydrogen where its development comes from mass-scale production, market, and infrastructure-driven motives. The underlying idea for HyDeal is that it is a collaboration between players to scale up an integrated value chain consisting of upstream (Solar developers: DH2 Energy, Dhamma Energy, Falck Renewables, Qair, Electrolysis OEMs, engineering and EPC providers: McPhy Energy, VINCI Construction), midstream, downstream (Gas TSOs: Enagás, OGE, SNAM, GRTgaz, Teréga, Energy and industrial groups: Gazel Energie, subsidiary of EPH, Naturgy, HDF Energie), and financing (European Investment Bank, Corporate Value Associates (CVA), Clifford Chance, Cranmore Partners, Finergreen, Envision Digital, Energy Web).

To bring together a conglomerate of big scale projects such as HyDeal naturally does not go without challenges, with the biggest one in Thierry's eyes being, bringing together people from different companies and countries from very different environments. The solution to this challenge was to design an operations process that was structured in a highly organized fashion, taking full use of the project team's engineering capabilities, financial resources, and project management expertise.

To keep up with bold and ambitious plans to deliver competitive price hydrogen with its first round of the project set to deliver 200000 tons of green hydrogen before 2025, HyDeal will exploit green hydrogen dedicated pipes that are going to be installed. "The perfect recipe", the fundamental condition is to build newly installed pipes next to the existing natural gas pipe network to leverage on the existing grid to help with speeding up permitting procedures. As for the transmission of hydrogen, Mr. Lepercq sees hydrogen being traded in the future exclusive regionally. For instance in Europe with its renewable production hubs located in southern Europe north Africa and the middle east, likewise in the case of Asia where hydrogen is to be delivered from China, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

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