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2022 review: Q&A with Salah Mahdy, Global Director of Renewable Hydrogen

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2022 review: Q&A with Salah Mahdy, Global Director of Renewable Hydrogen


Q: What role does Howden play in the hydrogen market?
For over 160 years, Howden has delivered mission critical air and gas handling solutions across industries, around the world. Depending on our customers’ needs, with our advanced technology portfolio and engineering expertise Howden can handle, optimise and recover forms of energy and ultimately is playing a key role in accelerating the energy transition.

Our role is to support our customers in their journey in overcoming energy challenges towards decarbonisation. One of the ways we are supporting our customers in meeting their environmental goals is through a shift in energy mix using hydrogen. Howden has been active in the hydrogen market for over 100 years through its hydrogen compression solutions.

Today, Howden is delivering market-leading hydrogen compression solutions on a number of cutting-edge projects around the world supporting the drive towards a cleaner energy future. You can read about them on our website.

Q: What aspects of the hydrogen industry Howden is/will be targeting?
Our technology portfolio and expertise is applied across all the known hydrogen applications such as mobility, power-to-x, pipelines etc. Having such a wide profile means we have the flexibility and knowledge to offer our customers a unique solution across the entire hydrogen value chain. Howden also has built the largest hydrogen compression solution in the world, which is a record hard to beat.

We have combined over 160 years of OEM expertise with the most advanced industrial IoT architectures in the world, to provide a purpose built and unique platform to deliver valuable insight into hydrogen equipment to optimise efficiency and safety, while reducing downtime.
This innovation was developed in partnership with Microsoft and is embedded in many of our products – exhibiting real innovation for the hydrogen market and aids in reducing the cost of ownership.

We specialise in hydrogen compression solutions across the hydrogen value chain with a focus on all aspects of hydrogen. We have participated on a number of key projects where we have demonstrated our compression solutions’ capabilities through our customer focused innovative approach.

Q: Tell us about the team behind the projects and supporting customers around the world.
We are recognised as a global leader of hydrogen compression solutions and we have a highly skilled team who have a wealth of application and product knowledge. As industries look to transition their energy source, our story is still the same. Our talented global hydrogen team has been supporting our customers worldwide with the advanced solutions and via providing the right expertise. Moreover, our hydrogen team has started already to plan for the future via developing advanced, state-of-art technologies that will play a key role in accelerating the energy transition.
As the world and our customers’ requirements change and evolve so do we. Howden’s culture fosters growth, development and innovation. We have a global network of skilled teams operating from over 90 locations across the world who are committed to creating sustainable value for our customers and strive for excellence.

Q: Which countries/regions do you see as having the most potential for hydrogen?
As a global company operating in over 90 locations around the world, we have a large footprint geographically which gives us access to growing markets. We understand that each region has its own needs, and different opportunities and challenges. Howden has developed a market-driven strategy to help our customers in these regions to make the best out of this opportunities and help them to overcome these challenges. We are already involved in a large number of hydrogen projects in the key regions including Europe, APAC, China, and America.

Our strong global footprint enables us to provide world-class aftermarket service to customers to enhance the performance and extend the life of equipment.

Q: What do you see as the greatest opportunity for the world to advance the manufacture and utilisation of hydrogen?
While growth in the hydrogen-based energy transition is growing fast, as a business we have been involved in hydrogen compression for 100 years, so it is not a new market in that sense. We have the knowledge and technology to manage hydrogen in an efficient and safe manner.

The increased demand for alternative fuel sources coupled with the investment support to reduce carbon emissions and meet decarbonisation goals, in addition to the various uses for hydrogen are all opportunities to advance the manufacture and progress the utilisation of hydrogen.

As the hydrogen economy is enjoying unprecedented business and political momentum, with the number of projects and policies around the world expanding rapidly, there is no doubt huge opportunities are there.

Q: What do you believe is the greatest challenge(s) facing the hydrogen industry today and in the short term?
Despite its longevity, because of the recent expansion within the hydrogen industry, it is challenged by the fact it has not yet developed its own design standards. With the need for managing cost whilst ensuring high quality and safety of products, there is a need to for standardisation across the board.

We also need to focus on innovation in developing advanced technologies to bring increased efficiency, consume less power and have a reduced footprint, all of which will minimise the cost of the ownership and reduce the levelised cost of hydrogen that the market needs.

Howden’s business strategy has looked at all of these challenges and we are responding to market needs; growing and adapting as it evolves. We are also focused on developing more advanced technologies that the market will need in the future to accelerate the deployment of the hydrogen solutions.

Having said that, I believe the speed to assemble expertise is one of the key challenges that the hydrogen market is starting to experience. Finding the right skills and knowledge that can help the industry to scale up quickly is a pivotal challenge faced today. The industry has to, as mean to overcome this issue, to reposition the expertise and skills that can migrate from other industries (like oil and gas), train them, and make a good use of them in the hydrogen space and advance the industry.

At Howden, in addition to our team of hydrogen experts, we have already begun growing our talent network by hiring large number of engineers, scientists, and sales managers around the world who after few months’ time became now a key part of our team and will help in the shaping the future of both our company and the industry.

Q: Last year, you were elected chair of the industry-working group in Hydrogen Europe, What does this means for Howden?
I feel excited about this role and I really enjoying working for/with Hydrogen Europe. With over 300 members, Hydrogen Europe plays a crucial role in supporting the hydrogen economy in Europe. Hydrogen Europe plays an important role on both policy and legalisation as well as research side supporting this industry and having Howden involved in this reflects again our solid vision in Howden to maintaining and strengthening our leading position in the global hydrogen market.

Q: How has 2022 been so far for you and Howden?
2022 has been another fantastic year for Howden. We started the year under the pressure of the success we did in 2021 achieving around 500% Year over Year revenue growth, but from day one we developed an effective market-driven business strategy and we have made a great progress with major achievements in all the directions we worked on and this is a result of our talented network on experts.

We have further strengthened our position in the global hydrogen market, and this is well reflected in our hydrogen compression solutions at the heart of a large number of important and unique projects worldwide. Unique not only for Howden but for the industry itself, for example:
- China: Hydrogen compression solutions for Beijing Winter Olympics refuelling stations
- Denmark: The world’s first container vessel operating on carbon neutral fuel
- USA: Waste-to-hydrogen plant for Raven SR
- The Netherlands: The largest biofuels refineries and green hydrogen plant in in Europe

We are very ambitious and excited about our future having identified key projects in our pipeline and working together with our customers and partners. We also have a strong R&D pipeline, and our R&D team has already started developing more advanced technologies in the space.

This has attracted a lot of attention towards us in the market. This year, Raven SR and Howden strengthened our relationship by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to optimise delivery of compression systems for Raven hydrogen fuel production facilities. We are working on closing similar deals with number of key players in the hydrogen market as we believe partnering with the market leading companies will give us and our partners the opportunity to work together in developing the market future advanced technologies that we need to optimise the entire hydrogen value chain.

For more information on Howden’s hydrogen compression capabilities and key highlights download our brochure.

Article Date

Friday, 18 November 2022



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