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NewGen Energy & HDF Energy Making Progress on Caribbean Green Hydrogen Project

By June 6, 2022 8   min read  (1395 words)

June 6, 2022 |

Fuel Cells Works, NewGen Energy & HDF Energy Making Progress on Caribbean Green Hydrogen Project

The sooner that T&T can get started on its hydrogen project, the better, says Thibault Menage, vice-president for the Caribbean at the French-owned, publicly traded company, HDF Energy.

Fuel Cells Works, NewGen Energy & HDF Energy Making Progress on Caribbean Green Hydrogen Project

Intended partnership: Philip Julien, managing director of hydrogen project development company NewGen; NGC president Mark Loquan; and Charlie Desmoulins, chief investment officer, HDF Energy, at the signing of the Letter of Intent between NGC and NewGen at the T&T Energy Conference last week at the Hyatt Regency (Trinidad) hotel in Port of Spain.

HDF Energy is the majority shareholder (70 per cent) of T&T’s hydrogen start-up, NewGen Energy Limited (NewGen), a subsidiary of Kenesjay Green Limited (KGL), chaired by Philip Julien.

Its flagship project is the US$300 million NewGen Hydrogen project, being designed to provide approximately 27,000 metric tonnes per year of carbon-neutral hydrogen for the ultimate benefit of the Point Lisas Industrial Estate.

Menage spoke to the Sunday Business at the Energy Chamber’s annual conference last week.

He observed that for HDF, the Caribbean is critical. HDF Energy already has a footprint in the Caribbean, having implemented a successful first project in Martinique and it is closing a similar hydrogen project in French Guiana.

To this end, they established a subsidiary, HDF Energy Caribbean Holdings, which is based in Barbados where he is stationed and actively recruiting professionals.

“We see the Caribbean as a critical region for the development of HDF because it has everything needed to make projects right now economically viable, due to specificities and the NewGen project is a perfect demonstration of that specifics that can be achieved right now.

“And I’m saying that we are developing projects in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia, in Australia, in Europe and North Africa. So we have many subsidiaries. Right now, the work that we’re doing in the Caribbean is really at the forefront,” he said.

But for Menage, things could progress faster.

“The timeframe would be the sooner the better. Because as an investor you put money at risk and you want this money to be rewarding, the sooner the better. And a private sector company, which is what Kenesjay Green is actually you know, we take risks and time costs money,” he noted.

He viewed the signing of a non-binding Letter of Intent (LOI) between NewGen and the National Gas Company last week as key to accelerating the project.

“All the players are motivated. NGC would kind of be a good catalyser to bring everybody to the table under the architecture of the project of the NewGen development team, right? But the interest from NGC as becoming the hydrogen aggregator in the future is clear.

“We hope that in the next three months, we accelerate very fast from a contractual perspective, because only when contractual perspective is set and framework is set with everybody in the room aligned and understanding what they have to do for this project to be delivered to Trinidad and Tobago. Only then you can go to the technical deep stuff that is costing a lot of money, right?” he said.

In April, HDF Energy – a global pioneer in hydrogen power – announced that it had acquired a 70 per cent majority stake in the NewGen project led by KGL.

KGL, the project developer, retains 30 per cent of the share capital of NewGen, which will be jointly owned by KGL and an investment vehicle that will allow for the inclusion of additional local investors.

In Trinidad, together KGL and HDF will select the optimal electrolysis technology provider from a competitive evaluation process.

Menage said that apart from the prospectus of the project, that the team of KGL had a strong footprint in Trinidad and Tobago.

“And what HDF had to bring in on top of investment, which means cash flow as well for the project to happen, is complementary skill sets, which have been developed on other projects that I’ve mentioned before. So we’re talking electrolyser supply and market understanding, but also we are talking about project financing, which is a type of finance structure that is not very common in Trinidad and Tobago, because it’s inherited from the renewable energy world, right. So that’s our interest,” he said.

Hydrogen policy needed

Chairman of KGL Philip Julien said the LOI is “really symbolising a deepening of our relationship that will lead to a heads of agreement in the near future”.

“This is all in the space of NGC taking more of a leadership and facilitation role in the advancement of this hydrogen economy that you’ve heard the Prime Minister (on Tuesday, at the opening of the T&T Energy Conference) speak very directly about our respective roles.

“I think NGC will have the role of facilitating the involvement of other key stakeholders, state stakeholders, whether it be T&TEC, PowerGen, there are many stakeholders involved. And I think it’s safe to say that will allow NewGen to focus on our core business of developing and delivering a world class low carbon hydrogen project. That’s it in a nutshell,” he said.

As for a timeline for a brick and mortar plant?

“We’d love to see it happen faster, not just for the sake of it, but right now Trinidad and Tobago is in a unique position of in many regards being ahead of the world timeline wise. The whole world is talking about green hydrogen. The reality is Trinidad has the current head start of having an established infrastructure known as Point Lisas, which is the classic hydrogen hub. Many other parts of the world are in the process of developing a hydrogen hub in order to export and sell their hydrogen in the form of ammonia and methanol. Because Trinidad and Tobago already has those petrochemicals, we have an inherent head start both commercially and timeline wise to be one of the world’s most competitively priced low carbon hydrogen producers in the world and by extension, one of the most competitively priced low carbon, ammonia and methanol producers in the world,” he explained.

“But we will only have that head start for a finite period of time before the rest of the world catches up.

“So of course, both from a patriotic and professional perspective, it would be tremendous to see this project accelerate its development, which we’re confident the deepened partnership with NGC will lead to,” he added.

In his keynote address at the conference, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley observed that hydrogen is being labelled as the new oil and is reported to contain more energy per tonne than any fossil fuel.

While Prime Minister Rowley has spoken favourably about hydrogen, there is no overarching policy in place as yet.

“We are optimistic that the Government will continue to work on ways to do so, through for example, an accelerated completion of T&T’s Hydrogen Policy. We believe that that will unlock many avenues to accelerate this project’s development,” Julien said.

He noted that there is a tremendous governmental, commercial and technical thrust to birth the new hydrogen frontier — hydrogen that is generated with no or low carbon footprint.

“And locally, in T&T, there is also a growing urgency from an economic perspective – and that is in relation to the business reality that T&T’s petrochemical industry has been operating in a below nameplate capacity for some time now, due to gas supply constraints, with no immediate or guaranteed remedies in the near future,” he said.

Energy Minister Stuart Young lamented that there exists bureaucracy to doing business in T&T.

In response to questions posed by the media following a panel discussion on Wednesday at the T&T Energy Conference, Young said: “I think that’s a fact. Anybody would be burying their head in the sand if we didn’t acknowledge that sometimes the bureaucracy takes too long to get things done. I find it a source of frustration at times as well and it really is a call to all persons in the public sector.

“You heard Claire Fitzpatrick (president of BPTT) talk about even in their company, sometimes decisions take too long. And now we need to speed up our processes while making sure we dot the i’s and cross the t’s and for me protect the people of T&T.

SOURCE: Daily Express

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