Hydrogen energy: I was hooked after I understood it

Hydrogen energy: I was hooked after I understood it

At the Asia-Pacific Industrial Gas Conference 2018 in Malaysia in December (2018), a whole session was devoted to throwing the Spotlight on Trending Gases. One of the most rousing talks of this session was given by Alan Kneisz, Hydrogenics’ Business Development Director, who’s passion for all things hydrogen energy was clear to see.

Kneisz reviewed where hydrogen-based technologies are making active inroads in the Asia-Pacific region, primarily in the transportation sectors, and the markets that see the most promise.

His presentation outlined the solutions and some of the future markets with cost reductions that reveal how hydrogen and fuel cells will be the dominant energy carrier in the near future, as well as emphasising the overall need for alternative low carbon solutions.

Nine months on, H2 View picked up the baton of that talk and sought to get behind the story of Kneisz’s passion for hydrogen, as well as his perspective on progress in the region’s energy ecosystems. Kneisz himself is based in Asia and regularly speaks on hydrogen at local events, while Hydrogenics has over 60 years experience in designing, manufacturing, building and installing industrial and commercial hydrogen systems around the globe and is a world leader in the field.

Thanks for giving H2 View your time. We know you are passionate about the hydrogen economy, how and when did this belief begin?

It began really when I joined a fuel cell company close to 10 years ago now. I saw this was the future, I really believed fuel cells are the most logical way to decarbonise.

Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, it’s everywhere. We don’t have to mine the planet extensively to get it and fuel cells are easily recycled. I was hooked after I understood it.

What role is Hydrogenics Corporation playing in this movement?

Hydrogenics is unique as we create hydrogen via electrolysis and also create the fuel cells to use the hydrogen, I think the only company globally that does both. We have a long history in both and are markets leaders in both technologies around the world.

What hydrogen innovation or application makes you most excited for the future?

Two key areas the excite me are:

  • Growing applications for fuel cells like trains, buses, trucks, ships and planes. These applications will grow and allow for great cost reductions, thus competing with existing technologies and displacing them.
  • The other area is the growth of ‘green hydrogen’ as we call it. Only 4% of hydrogen is made via electrolysis. With the developments in low cost renewable energy, and larger scale electrolysers, green hydrogen can compete with what they call grey hydrogen (hydrogen from natural gas).

What changes have you seen within the hydrogen ecosystem in the Asia-Pacific region in the past year?

We have seen larger companies take notice and invest in this area such as automotive OEMS like Hyundai and Toyota. We have also seen major government commitments happen for decarbonisation in countries like Japan, Korea, China and Australia.

Where do you feel the challenges currently are in the hydrogen space in this specific region?

Challenges stem around understanding the technology and its benefits. Being a bit behind batteries, we have a long curve for people to understand it is the better and more environmental option available for zero emissions transport.

The other key challenge is obtaining economies of scale in projects, to reduce costs and allow for great adoption.

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