Time is running out to bring about an energy transition that could avert the impact of catastrophic climate change.
And few are more aware of the need for speed than the people behind WHL, who are making it their job to educate the rest of the world on the need to develop low-carbon hydrogen.
WHL—a subsidiary of conference organiser Green Power Global—was born around 2019 from a need to accelerate and commercialise green hydrogen.
The team behind WHL had worked in many markets, including carbon, biofuels and solar, driving connections across the value chain through events.
These had proven to be effective tools for spreading best practices, creating investment-grade policies and connecting solution providers with developers and financiers.
Between 2012 and 2017 renewable energy had risen to cover about 30% of electricity globally, with expectations to reach up to 65% over the next decade and more than 80% by the 2040s. Hydrogen looked to be the next big thing.
“By 2018, we started taking a closer look at the hydrogen market, as we were very proud of the work that we had done in the renewable electricity sector,” Chaudhry says.
Since the team already had experience with biofuel and biogas, it knew that a core challenge in decarbonising the energy system was cleaning molecules in heat and mobility.
There was a need for training, so the team behind WHL started by developing its Hydrogen Heroes programme in 2020.
This is an online programme of six modules, covering the geopolitics of energy, hydrogen policy and the technologies behind hydrogen’s many colours, focusing on blue and green.
WHL grew off the back of that project, as a community platform where people could collaborate and exchange ideas online. WHL strives to communicate the opinions of different actors while fighting misinformation that has been a primary inhibitor of change.
“Ostensibly, WHL is a community of commercially focused people working in the hydrogen industry, looking to accelerate hydrogen,” Chaudhry says.
The platform’s objective is to help bring hydrogen down its cost curve as quickly as possible. Within that, there are debates around recurring themes. One is the validity and role of blue hydrogen as a solution to climate change. A second is how to scale green hydrogen.
Finally, there is significant debate around the use cases for hydrogen. From a WHL viewpoint, it’s a technology race on all sides.
“It is just as interesting to see new iterations of battery technology as new ways to introduce clean molecules in the energy system,” Chaudhry notes.
“There’s going to be different solutions for different countries, based on positioning and whether it has fossil fuel reserves it can convert or not.”
With the clock ticking, nothing is off the table. That’s why there might be a role for blue hydrogen, Chaudhry suggests.
“Unfortunately, the numbers still don’t add up for us to be able to mitigate climate change without being able to significantly decarbonise the gas industry, which is basically what blue hydrogen is,” he says.
Thankfully, the pace of hydrogen development has picked up over the last six months, with the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act alone having considerable impact in the US and abroad.
WHL is looking to increase that momentum by engaging with policymakers, Chaudhry explains. “Some governments have attended our online training courses to understand the realities and validity of the technology and how best to create policy,” he says.
WHL currently hosts eight events annually. It adopted a multi-year approach to creating and developing events that grow and increase in value. “Becoming an annual diary date is critical for enhancing the value-creation layer of these events,” Chaudhry asserts.
The team at WHL aims to ensure attendees leave every event with new contacts and ideas, ready to solve problems or adhere to best practice. “This is a role we take very seriously,” Chaudhry insists.
“We always make sure we are providing a premium experience, and we take a lot of pride in this.
“We see ourselves as an open platform, always open to new ideas and all collaborations that can help decarbonise the energy system as fast as possible, with the least damaging impacts from climate change.”