We're excited to feature an insightful Q&A with Mr Ivan Živković Ex-VP of market development at Teralta Hydrogen Solutions. As Teralta's recent VP of Market Development, Mr Ivan Živković has been instrumental in shaping the hydrogen industry's future. His role involved fostering relationships with low carbon intensity hydrogen consumers in areas like stationary power generation, transportation, and various industries.

Mr Živković's journey in the hydrogen sector combines vast experience in industrial-scale manufacturing, startups, and clean technology. He's played a key role in Teralta's growth and advises both emerging hydrogen companies and prominent industry players.

In this exclusive Q&A, we delve into the hydrogen market's dynamics, discussing supply and demand balance, hydrogen as a clean and renewable energy source, its roles as a fuel and commodity, and the importance of utilising existing infrastructure for hydrogen deployment. Mr Živković also shares insights on the value of global events, like the World Hydrogen Forum, in advancing the industry.

#WHF: Could you provide an overview of the present dynamics in the Hydrogen market, specifically regarding the balance between supply and demand?

Mr Ivan: Currently the hydrogen market is highly fragmented. It does not have a well-defined supply or well-defined demand for low carbon intensity hydrogen. It is sporadic, at best.

This is problematic for several reasons. It makes low carbon intensity hydrogen nowhere near at scale to be a commodity that is bought and sold akin to other commodities it is attempting to displace. This impacts its widespread adoption both from a market perspective and from a molecule deployment perspective. Finally, lack of easy access to low carbon intensity hydrogen (supply) makes it difficult to generate momentum on the demand side.

Market fragmentation is also manifested in the form of physical distance between supply and demand. To overcome this physical gap, between most supply and demand scenarios, requires a significant amount of infrastructure (compression, liquefaction, storage delivery, etc.) to enable the delivery of the molecule. This leads to a need for large amounts of capital, which places significant strain on the price of the molecule and its carbon intensity once it is delivered to the end-user.
However, it is not all doom and gloom because there are pockets of supply and demand. Challenges in connecting these pockets are substantial, but not insurmountable.

#WHF: Can you provide an overview of the current state and future prospects of the hydrogen industry as a clean technology and renewable energy source?

Mr Ivan: The industry is experiencing hyper growth. The US government is investing significant capital to generate momentum, and Europe is also betting big on hydrogen, offering incentives to stimulate progress. Venture capital is also playing a prominent role. However, the unintended consequence of this hype is that it creates a lot of market noise, making it challenging to distinguish a "signal" from the "noise." In other words, individuals and businesses struggle to discern what's real and viable from what isn't.

Developing a new market is akin to exploring new territory, which can be risky. Some current hydrogen market leaders may not survive as the industry matures, becomes more sophisticated, and subsidies become scarcer. A new generation of businesses is likely to emerge, benefiting from learning from the mistakes of today's market leaders. These emerging businesses in the hydrogen industry will bring both business and technological innovation to overcome today's challenges. The direction this new generation of innovators and leaders will take the industry is uncertain, but they are likely to solidify hydrogen as a viable pathway to sustainable decarbonization.

#WHF: Hydrogen serves various purposes, but it can primarily be categorised into two distinct roles: as a fuel and as a commodity. Could you provide a detailed explanation of the contrasting characteristics, applications, and significance of hydrogen in these two roles?

Mr Ivan: The jury is still out on hydrogen as a "fuel" at scale, although there may be unique scenarios where this is viable. As a fuel, hydrogen is inefficient, mainly because the energy required to produce the molecule typically exceeds the energy it delivers. Unless a new method is developed, and it manages to defy the laws of thermodynamics, this reality will persist. However, there are unique scenarios where hydrogen as a fuel may make sense, though these scenarios appear to be exceptional and often dependent on geography, subsidies, or regulations.

Hydrogen as an industry, where low carbon intensity hydrogen serves as a feedstock for other commodities, is unquestionably viable. This includes the production of commodities such as ammonia, methanol, and S-NG synthetic (low carbon) natural gas), among others. Additionally, low carbon intensity hydrogen can certainly play a role in replacing or augmenting existing fossil-based hydrogen production.

#WHF: What is the Importance of leveraging existing (legacy) infrastructure in hydrogen deployment?

Mr Ivan: Leveraging existing infrastructure in the entire hydrogen value chain significantly reduces production challenges, molecule storage issues, transportation issues in delivery of the molecule, and challenges on the demand side. Finding new ways to leverage what we have already built, or are good at building, is a low cost and low risk way of deploying the molecule that can have enormous positive impact on the entire hydrogen value chain.

Although development of new technologies has its place, it should be done in parallel with continued efforts to find new ways to work with what we already have. Using low carbon intensity hydrogen to produce fuels or commodities that are widely traded and used is one method of achieving this. These commodities likely have stable demand, established logistics and lower risks associated with scaled deployment. It is evident that leveraging existing infrastructure reduces capital risk, technology risks, supply chain risks, and can potentially improve deployment timelines.

#WHF: What is the significance of global events such as the World Hydrogen Forum?

Mr Ivan: The World Hydrogen Forum, and other similar events, are a platform for an exchange of ideas and experiences. This event enables the industry to connect. It is by virtue of these connections that the industry becomes less fragmented and stronger, tackling one of its greatest challenges. Although its value is difficult to quantify, it is evident that the industry values events and forums such as this. As a platform for shared experiences and knowledge it is critical to the industry as it matures. Connecting various industry experts, connecting academic experts along with professionals from industries that may be complimentary is critical in ensuring that hydrogen is realised as a viable pathway to ensuring large-scale decarbonization.