From the 9-13 October in Rotterdam, the team at World Hydrogen Leaders (WHL) will bring together stakeholders from more than 50 countries, spread across the hydrogen value chain, in a series of events aimed at accelerating hydrogen deployment around the world. We met with event producers Megan Farbrother and Vaughn Clarke-Williams to understand what attendees can expect from this year’s event.
‘[World Hydrogen Week] is a global meeting place for senior decision makers within the hydrogen industry’, seeking to unite the value chain and ‘spread best practice, seed vital innovation that’s needed to bring projects up to and beyond FID and trigger the policies and regulations that are needed to help projects accelerate’, as well as providing wider opportunities for networking and learning.
This year’s programme includes not only the well-established World Hydrogen Congress, but also various newer events which take a more granular focus on topics such as derivatives (World Hydrogen Derivatives) and training and upskilling within the hydrogen sector (World Hydrogen Intelligence Day).
Attendees of World Hydrogen Week (WHW) can benefit from a vast range of sessions, covering both technical and strategic facets of hydrogen development. These include electrolyser testing, regulatory compliance in different regions, plant safety, life cycles and ‘bankability’, which looks at issues such as resource scarcity (specifically rare metals and earth materials in the energy transition), the CAPEX and OPEX of a project, or how to move start-ups through to commercialisation. While ticket holders can expect detail from these individual sessions, the overall events offer immense breadth- taking a global focus which includes panels ranging from North America hydrogen hubs to EU taxonomy, and a range of production methods from nuclear, renewables through to energy from waste.
In the rapidly changing global hydrogen landscape, Farbrother, Clarke-Williams and colleagues have worked hard to ensure that key regions, developments and players to watch are in the spotlight throughout the week’s events. For example, Farbrother draws attention to the current upshot of interest and activity in Africa, which will be touched upon at the event by speakers from the likes of the Namibian Investment Promotion and Development Board and an Africa-focused panel which will focus on activities on the continent, specifically creating both a domestic and import market for hydrogen (both North and Sub-Saharan Africa). As she identifies, the more democratic distribution of feedstocks for hydrogen production versus traditional fossil-based fuels creates an opportunity for new players to enter the market, which is scope for optimism but also demands careful management.
“One thing that has come out more and more is the importance of a just transition and making sure that the export countries or markets are not only building and creating hydrogen for Western markets to use, but also that they’re using it domestically and helping with their own energy transition. Making sure that local communities are involved in projects and part of the decision-making from the start is incredibly important to make sure that all stakeholders are benefitting from the transition.”
Naturally, the landmark Inflation Reduction Act in the US will also be a hot topic of conversation, featuring in sessions such as a debate titled ‘This house believes: the IRA will enable the US to become the cheapest producer and exporter of green hydrogen’. With the emerging impacts of the European Green Industrial Deal and EU subsidies for hydrogen production, Farbrother predicts this will create a fight for projects in different parts of the world, looking at achieving scale in order to meet targets.
Other key areas she signposts, therefore, are supply chain stress (especially following the Ukraine War) and dynamics (balancing building global versus local supply chains, such as clusters and valleys), emerging new offtakers and a ‘race for talent’ in the market, with 2023 coined ‘the year of the skill’.
In the derivatives space, the target market will be those who are already producing hydrogen, looking at sustainable methods of producing derivatives, and the well-known dilemma of how to transport hydrogen over vast distances.
The two days will be split into two focus topics: ammonia, followed by methanol and liquid organic hydrogen carriers (LHOCs). While these will be looked at in terms of their potential to transport hydrogen, each substance will also be discussed in its own right in the context of its different use cases- such as ammonia’s applications in shipping or agriculture.
Speakers include Project Neom (a planned 3.9GW-scale green hydrogen project in Saudi Arabia), the Namibian Investment and Development Board and Porsche and Bioenergy Colombia, who will present a case study on e-methanol and ethanol. As with the wider event, the aim of the game is to bring a range of different minds together to discuss and collaborate on what the event organisers have found to be a crucial but under-researched topic in the industry.
In addition to WHW’s broad-ranging informative content and the importance inherent in bringing together global stakeholders from across the value chain to collaborate, attendees should be excited by the dynamic and interactive activities on offer outside of the conference centre.
“One really exciting thing that we’ve got this year is a green shipping tour which we’re doing on a new sustainable technology-focused shipping vessel, docked 10 minutes down the road from World Hydrogen Week. We’ll be running tours on there to showcase the green technologies that will be running the ship, including hydrogen storage and fuel cells. We’ve got technology designers and partners on board to give the tour and answer questions about how that ship will be up and running. It’s a really important way to decarbonise the maritime sector through hydrogen.”
Attendees can also look forward to a new gala dinner and World Hydrogen Leaders dinner at a Brazilian restaurant with dancers and entertainment as well as networking opportunities and drinks events in the evenings. There will also be soft skills building activities such as a public speaking and presentation skills workshop run in partnership with Women In Green Hydrogen, which aims to support more women in the industry to present at conferences like this one, often male-dominated spaces.
Given the range of opportunities available, the event welcomes seasoned hydrogen experts and newcomers alike. For example, trainings and workshops will take place which are tailored towards traditional energy companies which are now looking to move into clean energy and hydrogen.
It remains to commend World Hydrogen Leaders for their work to foster diversity in their events and wider work. This year’s event not only includes attendees from 50 countries, but continues a long-standing partnership with Women In Green Hydrogen. The organisation will be running a workshop on public speaking and presentation skills to support women in the industry to be more present at conferences like WHW, which are often male-dominated.
“We have a long standing relationship with [Women in Green Hydrogen] and are proud to partner with them again this year…It’s really important to get women on stage to inspire the next generation.”
So what do the organisers most look forward to? Farbrother articulates it as:
“…connecting with so many incredible, inspiring hydrogen professionals that are really paving the way for the clean energy transition… it’s great to finally meet in person and hear face to face their achievements and plans for the future, spend the whole week immersing yourself in the latest developments and understanding what’s happening and where we’re heading next.”
For those who wish to be a part of World Hydrogen Week 2023, further information, pass prices and purchase options can be found at www.worldhydrogenweek.com.
For those who cannot attend, there will also be an opportunity to watch some of WHL’s keynote speakers on livestream – which will be available via the World Hydrogen Leaders YoutTube channel.