We spend 60 seconds with Laurent Burelle, CEO of Plastic Omnium
What changes have you seen within the hydrogen ecosystem and community in the past year?
In several leading countries, industrial players have started to collaborate more intensively and cross the traditional borders between the industries to accelerate the emergence of a hydrogen economy. Consequently, in the automotive sector and in several other industrial fields of energy and mobility, hydrogen has begun gaining traction. For example, in France, the release of the Hydrogen Council Study in 2017, has allowed us to create a new momentum around hydrogen, in order to better integrate it within the potential solutions for the future of mobility.
What hydrogen related innovation, application or technology makes you most excited for the future?
As the automotive industry is entering a deep technological revolution, with increasing demands for electrification, connectivity, digitalization and automation, we can expect hydrogen to take a complementary role in the energy mix, in order to allow a new type of propulsion, that relies on long range, easiness to refuel and complete life cycle management (“from cradle to grave”).
Are there any recent or upcoming hydrogen related milestones in your company that you are especially proud of?
In this challenging and amazing framework, Plastic Omnium, together with other leading companies, considers that hydrogen maturity has reached the relevant threshold to be accelerated and deployed at industrial scale. Through the Hydrogen Council initiative, steering members all around the world are promoting the development of a complete hydrogen ecosystem, expected to promote green, affordable and safe use of this energy in transport, and in several key industrial applications like energy, heating and feedstock.
Which area of hydrogen development and deployment is your company investing in currently?
Demonstrating a strong commitment to hydrogen development, Plastic Omnium is investing 200 million euros in R&D, aimed at breakthrough solutions for an affordable technology. R&D centers dedicated to new energies are being built in Belgium and in China, with state of the art capabilities for testing. We are also recruiting new talent, with the creation of an entity dedicated to New Energies, as a subsidiary of our main Division, “Clean Energy Systems,” and through the acquisition of two start-ups, Swiss Hydrogen and Optimum CPV. Several important steps have already been taken, and this will contribute to the emergence of a complete hydrogen ecosystem for new mobility solutions, including onboard storage and fuel cell balance of plant components.