As 2023 draws to a close, it is time to “pan back” and have a look at the recent past, how it has affected us, and what the future holds.
It is clear that we have all just lived through an extraordinary period in human history. Over the past two years, we have weathered a desperate global pandemic, wars, financial instability, and political uncertainty. This has led to supply chain disruption, a “rehoming” of critical supply chains and investor uncertainty, impacting all global-facing businesses, including Star.
However, at Star Scientific, we are moving forward into 2024 with strong optimism, largely because the world is starting to see the future of hydrogen the way we do.
For years now we have attended conferences and meetings where we have diligently stuck to the message that industrial heat, not energy, was the early pathway for hydrogen’s financial success and social licence. Similarly, we have predicted that desalination and wastewater treatment would play a big role in hydrogen’s future. For years we have opposed the orthodox thinking that burning hydrogen was the way to release its energy and we have warned that too much investment and thinking was going into the supply side at the exclusion of the demand side of hydrogen’s role in the transition. More often than not, at these conferences, we were met with polite nods at best, but usually blank stares.
How things have changed. Now, at every conference, there are sessions on process heat, indeed whole conferences are devoted to process heat alone. In the United States, and in particular in the Southwest states of New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Wyoming and Utah, to name a few, there is a massive effort going into wastewater treatment, backed by the IRA funding. As each year goes by, the shortcomings of combined cycle gas-burning turbines are becoming clearer.
For Star Scientific, and particularly since our announcement regarding our future in New Mexico, this means an almost overwhelming interest in us from potential customers, suppliers, collaborators, and regulators, particularly, but not exclusively from the US. Our team has kept busy meeting with these parties and making plans for further discussions next year.
We are particularly excited about the opportunities in water treatment and have ramped-up a pre-pilot design process to complement our existing pilots in process heat.
As veteran watchers of, and participants in, many editions of the annual Conference of Parties (COP), we have learned that it is behind the scenes of the headline-grabbing politics and speeches that the real advances are made. This year was no different, and the most important outcome, for hydrogen and for us, was an agreement by 38 countries, including Australia, Germany, and the United States on the “Mutual Recognition of certification schemes for renewable and low-carbon hydrogen and hydrogen derivates.’
This will be an important step in making it easier to move hydrogen across borders and trade in it as a commodity. Although not particularly exciting in a media or political sense, it is nevertheless these “dry” but important regulatory mechanisms that will be critical for hydrogen’s role in the energy transition.
You can read more at our LinkedIn site here: https://www.linkedin.com/company/star-scientific-limited/
From all of us here at Star Scientific, we would like to wish you a happy, safe, restful, and reflective holiday season. After a short break, our office will reopen from 2 January. We look forward to working with you through an exciting 2024.
All the best.