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Teijin: “The biggest challenge is changing human-behaviour”

Meet Mark Breed, Business Development Manager Hydrogen at Teijin. In this article, Mark goes in depth on his fascination with the environment, his perspective on climate change and current projects at Teijin and their role in the consortia they are part off. What are the biggest challenges at the moment and where will Teijin be in 2030?

Name: Mark Breed
Function: Business Development Manager Hydrogen 
Organization: Teijin
Partnering with ISPT in project: HyScaling  

Why is it important to contribute to the climate goals with your work?    

“I have always been fascinated by the stories of astronauts who went to space. They experienced space as a very hostile uncomfortable environment to survive. And they described our earth as a tiny particle in the endless universe surrounded by a very thin layer of air representing our atmosphere. This is where our lives take place. And it is all we have. This always make me look at things in perspective and realize how unique and fragile we are.”

“Looking at the earth time-line we are emitting greenhouse gases, collected by vegetation over millions of years, in just a ‘split second’ by burning fossil fuels. To this point, where we have a remaining budget of just 50 tons of greenhouse gasses per individual to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees! For people in less developed countries this can be tens of years of remaining budget while for people in developed countries this is no more than a few times an intercontinental flight for holidays or business. So, we have little time to stop and limit the effects of global warming. Based on this sense of urgency and my passion for new innovations that can make the difference, I decided to focus my career on sustainable business development.”

What does the energy transition need right now?

“Looking at our history, energy transitions are not new. Many have passed since the industrial revolution in relatively short time, each giving us more welfare by lowering the costs and improving availability of energy. The industrial revolution was initiated, globalization and digitisation took place till where we are now. For example, a car is now a global product instead of a national product, made of thousands of parts produced in numerous countries with many cross-border trips and global value chains involved, driven by well available low cost energy. “

“However, the current energy transition we are facing is different because it is not driving our economic welfare, though is a necessity for survival and well-being on our planet. A pre-condition to live together in peace and in balance with nature in this thin layer of air. This also explains why the existing political framework, economic models, and regulations are struggling to deliver the energy transition in time. These are not yet capturing the scope and values this energy transition involves. 

 A more specific example of this, the integral value of hydrogen in the energy system is hard to capture in a business case for an investment in upstream production or downstream consumption of green hydrogen. Simply because values like more cost-effective storage and transport of molecules compared to electrons cannot be incorporated well in these business cases. A different point of view of the same problem is the ‘open’ electricity market with fixed tariffs for transport, which do not take into account the location, distance, timing etc. In practice however the grid is ‘not a copper plate’ resulting in grid congestion blocking renewable projects while we only just have started the transition with currently still marginal market shares of electric cars, heat pumps, etc. ”

“The biggest challenge I see is awareness and change of our own individual behavior. For many people, in the rush of the day, the energy transition is something abstract, technical, to be outsourced, or is just stopping the Oil & Gas industry. I think our own behavior, how we buy, how we move, how we live is key in accelerating the energy transition. ”

What do you see as the biggest opportunity for innovations to achieve the goals of the Climate Agreement?    

“Capturing renewables itself, like wind and solar, has become cost competitive already in many locations worldwide and the learning and scale-up curves are developing rapidly. However, the alignment with our energy needs to be specified in time, amount, density, location needs still a lot of disruptive innovations. Digital transformation needs to align supply and demand, together with innovations in conversion, storage and transportation which are of importance to deliver the energy transition.   

As mentioned already, our own individual behavior is key. Besides reducing, why not more align our energy needs with what the weather and seasons bring? This is so unfamiliar to us nowadays, but just a few generations back that’s how people lived.”

Tell us about your collaboration with ISPT?    

“Teijin is currently participating in three ISPT consortium projects. All projects are related to the energy transition. Two are related to reducing the carbon footprint of our high-performance materials. One of these project is HyScaling in which our role is to develop a next generation ‘Fluor-free’ proton exchange membrane material. Teijin has unique expertise and competences to develop and scale-up such a new material so we are confident about this. However, we are aware that many other factors as well are needed to make an innovation successful. The co-operation with ISPT and the consortium partners in the electrolyzer eco-system is going well and gives us useful input and direction to make our contribution in the project. In addition the HyScaling demonstration project gives a good starting position for the next steps involved in a successful introduction of a more sustainable proton exchange material.”

What is your dream?

“The understanding of the role of green hydrogen as a key-pillar in the energy transition is growing. Basically, I didn’t find any scenario of any public or private organization without hydrogen that can deliver the energy transition sufficiently and limit global warming below two degrees.  My 2030 dream is that the energy transition is in full momentum of global implementation. Green hydrogen learning curves and economy of scale are reached, global value chains are ramping up and green hydrogen is produced massively at low costs outcompeting fossil energy and enabling further expansion of renewables. Teijin is one of the key suppliers of the next generation proton exchange materials that are more environmental friendly to produce and to use, have a good end-of-life value, and are made of well available low cost materials.”

Our partners are of great value for our open innovation platform. In this series we proudly introduce some of them to you with a short interview about collaboration in the energy transition.