FiveT Hydrogen joined the Hydrogen Council in 2021. Here, Pierre-Etienne Franc, Chairman, answers our questions.
April 19, 2023
FiveT Hydrogen has been an investor member of the Hydrogen Council since 2021. Why was it important for FiveT Hydrogen to join the Council?
FiveT Hydrogen was created in 2021 to support the clean hydrogen industry scale-up by being a financial partner and a catalyst to the hydrogen ecosystem. We’ve created this hydrogen financial pureplay together with former executives within the industry, involved in hydrogen business and activities since a decade. I personally moved from my position at Air Liquide to co-create FiveT Hydrogen because I was convinced that industrial scale up would not be possible without an investment catalyst gathering industrial and institutional interests. Today, our €2 billion Infrastructure Fund is combining 50/50 of industrial and financial LPs which is unique in that space.
Together with the Hydrogen Council, we are sharing the same vision for clean hydrogen being a cornerstone of our future energy systems and being a critical tool to swich from a fossil-based economy to a decarbonized one. Naturally, FiveT Hydrogen joined this powerful ecosystem built around the Hydrogen Council, which is an alliance that we initiated together with the former CEO of Air Liquide, Benoît Potier, and few other key CEOs. The Council has enabled us to give a voice to the players in the sector, to carry out the advocacy work that is essential for the subject to gain momentum and to help demonstrate the role of hydrogen for the energy transition. FiveT Hydrogen is very proud to be able to benefit from the Hydrogen Council ecosystem as all our focus is on developing the hydrogen economy at scale and all key players are there.
Your personal history with the Hydrogen Council dates back much further to its inception in 2017 when you were the founding co-secretary. What’s it like to see such significant growth within the Council – from 13 founding members to now 145+? And more widely, recognition for hydrogen increase?
The initial observation that motivated the creation of the Council was absence of a global body powerful enough to carry the voice of hydrogen as one of the complementary solutions to decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors towards CO2 emissions reduction targets. The creation of the Council has made it possible to bring together players from industry, energy, equipment manufacturers, etc. around a common vision of the role of hydrogen: its first macro quantification now, tomorrow and by 2050, its major segments and its cost and deployment trajectories. By building a common narrative on the basis of which the world’s energy agencies and public policies have drawn up their studies, their scenarios and, ultimately, their national strategic deployment plans. This was done with criticism and debate, of course, but it allowed us to take a significant step towards the recognition and inclusion of hydrogen today in the major plans for decarbonization, sovereignty and reindustrialization. The Hydrogen Council, which now has nearly 150 members, continues to play a key role in aligning visions and pushing the key messages.
Hy24 – the joint venture between FiveT Hydrogen and Ardian – has had quite the exciting 12 months. At the end of 2022, Hy24 closed the world’s largest clean hydrogen infrastructure fund at €2 billion. More recently, you established a joint venture with Everfuel to finance the accelerated development of electrolyser capacity across the Nordics. Can you talk about the role Hy24 is playing in the hydrogen sector?
Hy24’s ambition is to contribute to the deployment of the hydrogen energy vector worldwide by investing in the whole clean hydrogen value chain. To do so, we’ve launched a fund contributing to solve one of the biggest challenges: the infrastructure deployment. This first impact fund is the result of a unique cooperation between industrial and financial key players. Through the Clean H2 Infra Fund, closed at €2 billion in October 2022, Hy24 started to invest into upstream projects like renewable and low-carbon hydrogen production, to downstream projects like captive fleet and refuelling stations. We’ve recently created a joint venture with Danish green hydrogen producer Everfuel. That is a perfect illustration of the way we create unique collaboration with pioneers to push forward the boundaries of their possibilities, thus playing a real catalyst role. We also have a specific ambition on the side of downstream mobility markets where we expect to foster the move to scale of infrastructures, fleets and supply chains solutions in key geographies.
Next, Hy24 is planning to mobilise up to €20 billion of investment capacity over the next six years. Tell us more about how this creates the right support for the new and critical hydrogen policy frameworks in our key geographies?
With the €2 billion infrastructure fund, Hy24 aims to mobilize up to €20 billion of investment capacity over the next six years using its unique blend of financial firepower – leveraging debt, grants and co-investment – and sector expertise from its core strategic investors and an experienced team with a track record in these areas. In this way, we take a collaborative approach that relies on an ecosystem of players willing to invest in large projects at scale alongside us. This is what we have done with our first investments in the project developer Hy2Gen and with H2 Mobility Deutschland, the operator of the largest network of hydrogen stations in Europe. In doing so, we are sending a strong signal to policymakers to adopt and implement more quickly the policies necessary for the $700 billion in investments the hydrogen industry needs by the end of the decade.
The Hydrogen Council’s Hydrogen Insights 2022 report highlighted a substantial uptake in hydrogen project announcements with industry, investors and governments needing to take the next step and quickly ramp up FIDs in order to jump start project construction and operations as quickly as possible.
What needs to happen to see more projects taking that next step? And how can Hy24 and the Hydrogen Council help here?
The momentum is there but the challenges are still numerous and the paradox is that for this to work, it has to be systemic i.e. move forward on several fronts with a climate agenda whose pace requires acceleration of the political agenda. Since it is systemic, it is necessarily large infrastructure projects that must be deployed, but also fast, which is the challenge. These projects, because of their size, take more time to be decided and executed and are further slowed down as long as public policies are not all clearly in place on the upstream and downstream. The good news is that things are moving forward in terms of policies, in Europe with the AFIR, the Renewable Energy Directive, and in the US with the IRA. We need to prepare the conditions in terms of support mechanisms without delay to deploy projects at GW scale.
Hy24 supports this process by taking stakes in project developers in order to support them and give them the necessary initial credibility to walk the talk of their investment goals. We shall also work to help lower the cost of hydrogen distribution infrastructure by bringing together the players as much as possible and aggregating demand. The Council must continue to work, as it is already doing, to harmonize standards and certifications, to define the colours of hydrogen, and to promote the systemic role and versatile uses of hydrogen in all market segments, as this is a system play that will enable us to shift to a clean energy mix.
About The Hydrogen Council
The Hydrogen Council is a global CEO-led initiative that brings together leading companies with a united vision and long-term ambition for hydrogen to foster the clean energy transition. The Council believes that hydrogen has a key role to play in reaching our global decarbonization goals by helping to diversify energy sources worldwide, foster business and technological innovation as drivers for long-term economic growth, and decarbonize hard-to-abate sectors.
Using its global reach to promote collaboration between governments, industry and investors, the Council provides guidance on accelerating the deployment of hydrogen solutions around the world. It also acts as a business marketplace, bringing together a diverse group of 140+ companies based in 20+ countries across the entire hydrogen value chain, including large multinationals, innovative SMEs, and investors.
The Hydrogen Council also serves as a resource for safety standards and an interlocutor for the investment community, while identifying opportunities for regulatory advocacy in key geographies.
The Hydrogen Council s delighted to announce Topsoe as its newest Board Member. At the same time, the Council is pleased to share that Yoshinori Kanehana, Chairman of Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., has extended his Co-Chair term.
The global hydrogen economy is growing despite global headwinds resulting from rising interest rates and constrained supply chains, according to an analysis of over 1,400 large hydrogen projects published today by the Hydrogen Council.
Alongside the vital climate benefits and cost-efficiency gains, a truly global hydrogen economy can provide meaningful contributions to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) both in emerging markets and in developed countries, fostering just transition, boosting sustainable growth, and providing clean jobs.