Howden’s Chief Executive Officer, Ross B. Shuster, took part in an interview series with George Richardson, Head of Hydrogen, from Boss Energy Consulting. Ross sat down with George to discuss hydrogen's role in the energy transition, the challenges we need to overcome and finally, how Howden will enable the value chain.
George: Pleasure to have you as part of the series. I know a lot of people are aware of Howden and your business and what you do but for the sake of the video, do you mind just giving us a bit of an overview of who you are and what you do?
Ross: Absolutely. So I'm Ross Shuster and I have the privilege of being the CEO of Howden Group and a little bit on Howden for those of you who don't know about the company. So Howden is a global leader in air and gas handling and that's must seem like a bit of a broad description and it is really because we are a broad company, we serve a broad range of industries and serve a broad range of applications.
In mining and as an example we are the global leader in ventilating deep mines like those mines that mine the type of metals necessary for electrification. In our infrastructure segment among other things we have a strong position in aeration for wastewater treatment. And then our Industrial segment serves a wide variety of industries where we enable our customers’ processes and also help decarbonize them. I think notable in that segment is our contributions to green steel as well as our efforts around carbon capture.
And then lastly, our largest segment is energy renewables and this ranges from traditional energy plants through to renewables including biomass, nuclear and of course our fastest growing segment which is a renewable hydrogen. And it's kind of ironic that hydrogen is are our fastest growing segment because as a company we developed hydrogen compressors over 100 years ago and in fact we were the first company to compress hydrogen.
George: Fantastic. And that that rolls into the first question I have really. You mentioned you've been into hydrogen for 100 years, but for the past I'd say 24 months we've seen a lot of hype regarding the sector.
But what role do you see in hydrogen ultimately playing in reaching our net zero targets?
Ross: Yeah it's interesting to me obviously as I mentioned we've been involved with, with hydrogen compression and hydrogen for 100 years.
When you think about more specifically renewable hydrogen, it's really changed. If you look at where we are today versus where the challenges and where we were three or four years ago. You know three or four years ago hydrogen I think renewable hydrogen was fighting for acceptance. Today it's clearly seen as one part, and I emphasize one part, of a solution to get to net zero and how you know we have a great vantage point as we play in a lot of areas as I mentioned you know, so we see progress in areas like small modular reactors.
We see progress in areas like electrification and carbon capture and other technologies which we believe will also have a role in get the net zero. But I think the interesting part about renewable hydrogen is that it can be implied so broadly, right. You see it in mobility for with fuel cells, you see it taking role in transportation fuels with emethane and sustainable fuels for marine and aviation. You know we see it gaining a lot of traction and industrial applications like green steel, you see it in grid balancing, you see it in heating. And so it just plays so broadly and I think that's why it's going to have a very significant role in in the world's drive to net zero and and decarbonization. But again apart because there's other technologies I think will fill other gaps as well.
George: Yeah and that that rolls into the next question I have really. Obviously there's been a lot of investment partnerships, MoU’s, Howden and Raven with the very recent announcement, but the positives are there. But in in your opinion what are the challenges that we need to overcome as a sector?
Ross: Yeah, I think there's two parts of that question. I think you know one is, is the challenges and I'll take that on first. I mean I think that the challenge is that have quickly evolved over the last three or four years. You know as I mentioned if you went back to 2018, 2019, renewable hydrogen was really, you know, battling for to be a credible part of the Net zero solution. Today, amazingly it's a completely different situation today. It's more about managing the demand of projects and frankly you know meeting the expectations for the speed of projects. Which are which are very much linked and you know I think a couple of things have changed over the last three or four years. It's like the world woke up from the pandemic and the drive to get to net zero, the urgency around climate change just accelerated. Specific to renewable hydrogen the cost to produce renewable energies started to come into par with traditional energy and you know linked to that with technology advancements. So there's a lot of projects. You know, we spend a lot of time evaluating which ones have the most promise because again it is about meeting the demand that's out there and that does mean a little bit about being selective.
But I think that also takes us to the partnerships and you see a lot of partnerships starting to form. We've done some. I know you've talked to Matt from Raven SR, we have a partnership cooperation agreement with them. I know you've talked to Jill from Chart Industries and we've got a partnership agreement with them. And these partnerships are, are not just a piece of paper, they go well beyond that, that they're real and they're really driving projects and I think more importantly helping the industry move faster. You think about the type of cooperation that can come when we're taking our products and inserting them in and Raven SR packages or Chart Industries packages, it enables us to drive speed, it enables us to look for cost efficiencies and very importantly, it also enables us to look jointly together for innovation and I think in an industry in a segment that's evolving so quickly those, those MoU’s and partnerships play an incredible role.
George: Yeah, definitely and it is it is a very much a partnership landscape at the moment. Everyone's driving towards that that same goal and that ties in nicely to the last question really and I know you've mentioned briefly but in terms of Howden how, how will how will your business enable the value chain as we move forward?
Ross: Yeah great question. I mean you know arguably compression and or liquification of hydrogen is, is one of the most critical parts of the hydrogen value chain. And you know I like to say that that we play in a very enviable place in in the hydrogen value chain within hydrogen within Howden.
And a couple reasons for that because you know we play across a wide spectrum of end uses. I mentioned some before but you know we've been involved in the world's largest refueling station so mobility we've been involved in the first climate neutral efuels plant in in South America. So you know aviation fuels. We've been involved in Europe's largest biofuel project. We've been involved in green Steel project.
So we see all the end uses but in addition to that we're agnostic to electrolyzer technology. We're agnostic to the debate that goes on around transportation in form of gas or transportation form of electrification because we play in both of those. We play in gas compression, we play in liquification. So we sit in a in a great. All to be able to see the entire hydrogen value chain evolve, which makes us play an important role because again we can help evaluate different options, different solutions and most importantly help our customers just advance the hydrogen economy and advance the overall effort to get the world to net zero.
Exciting time for hydrogen, I think exciting time for the world as well.
So it really different world than it was three or four years ago with the progress that we're all making towards net zero.
George: Definitely. And I've been watching the business closely, Ross, and it's it seems like super exciting time. So as I said, pleasure to have you part of the series and we wish you the best for the end of the year.