Dr. Vasilis Gregoriou, the CEO and Executive Chairman of the Board of Advent Technologies Holdings Inc. is a distinguished scientist who has conducted research and worked in the technology sector in both the United States and Greece. In an interview with CEOWORLD magazine, he discusses what’s next for fuel cells and reveals all of the company’s new projects. Speaking about the new trends in the global renewable energy market, Dr. Vasilis Gregoriou firmly believes that hydrogen and related technologies will be a vital part of the world’s future energy mix.
Q: What is the company’s current innovation in the field of energy-based technologies?
Dr. Vasilis Gregoriou: At Advent, one of our primary goals is to replace diesel generators and combustion engines with clean, efficient fuel cells. Our HT-PEM technology addresses the cost problems of hydrogen fuel cells, renewable fuels, hydrogen infrastructure, production, and energy storage. Our I.P. covers the core materials, such as membranes and electrodes, as well as stacks and systems.
Our technology enables fuel cells to operate with various low-cost and abundant hydrogen-carrier fuels, including methanol, natural gas, e-fuels, liquid organic hydrogen carriers, dimethyl ether, and renewable biofuels. Due to our innovative technology, many hydrogen-carrier fuels can use existing or in-development infrastructure and have a much lower transport cost than hydrogen.
Simply put, our ability to deliver hydrogen through liquid fuels allows us an immediate market opportunity today without having to wait for the global hydrogen infrastructure to develop over the years. In addition, our HT-PEM fuel cells can be placed anywhere in the world since our technology enables them to operate in a variety of practical conditions, including a wide range of geographies, weather, ambient temperatures (as low as -20°C and up to +50°C), and in humid or polluted environments. In short, our technology offers significant potential because we provide fuel flexibility and temperature flexibility.
Furthermore, we are building the next generation of our fuel cells in a joint development program with the U.S. Department of Energy. Under this program, we are working closely with the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, and National Renewable Energy Laboratory to commercialize the decade-long materials advancements in MEA development. MEAs form the heart of the fuel cell, and their performance determines the lifetime, efficiency, weight, and to a large extent, the cost of the end electrochemistry products.
We expect that the outcomes of this impactful collaboration with the U.S. DOE will revolutionize the global fuel cell industry. Our next-generation MEAs will bring the HT-PEM technology into the mobility area by enabling fuel cells to be lightweight with high power density. The new Advent MEA is also anticipated to deliver as much as three times the power output compared with current MEA products.
We have already distributed samples of the new Advent MEAs to major Original Equipment Manufacturers for test and evaluation. We intend that both our own products and 3rd party products will be able to use the new Advent MEAs in mass production from 2024. To achieve that, we are completing the build-out of a new state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Charlestown, Massachusetts, which will focus on developing and producing next-generation fuel cell components.
Q: In which markets does your company operate? How would you characterize the global renewable energy market, and what trends are estimated to take place in the coming years?
Dr. Vasilis Gregoriou: Currently, we develop, manufacture, and assemble complete fuel cell systems and critical components for fuel cells in the renewable energy sector. Advent will soon enter the electrolyser market dynamically through the Green HiPo project under the EU framework of IPCEI Hydrogen – Technology. In June 2022, we received notification of up to euro 782.1 million in funding from the Greek State for the Green HiPo project.
Later in July, we received the European Union’s official ratification for the project. Green HiPo involves the development, design, and manufacture of HT-PEM fuel cells and electrolyser systems for the production of power and green hydrogen, respectively. Green HiPo will be based in the Western Macedonia region of Greece, where a new state-of-the-art facility will be home to the production and research activities for innovative fuel cells and electrolyser systems.
The Green HiPo electrolysers will help towards the decarbonization of several industrial activities, such as steel & chemical industries, petrochemicals & transport, in Greece and beyond. In Europe and the U.S., we have seen many positive developments and a substantially increased number of multilateral actions that have accelerated global decarbonization efforts. Fuel cell and hydrogen technology is expected to play a critical role in global decarbonization. As a result of the recent geopolitical developments, Europe is in the process of speeding up its green transition and scaling-up renewable energy production to ensure quicker decarbonization and secure energy independence.
At the same time, the $369bn climate segment of the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act and favorable tax credits are expected to stimulate significant demand in the U.S. for hydrogen projects. Regardless of continent, it is evident that discussions for a new low-carbon energy mix designed by governments, regulators, and industry feature green hydrogen (which is created from the electrolysis of water using renewable electricity and is 100% sustainable) as a key contributor. I firmly believe that hydrogen and related technologies will be a vital part of the world’s future energy mix.
Q: How were the last two years for your company amid the COVID-19 pandemic and energy crisis?
Dr. Vasilis Gregoriou: Despite the challenges and unprecedented events, 2021 and 2022 have been pivotal for Advent’s growth. Following a successful listing on NASDAQ and three acquisitions in 2021 (U.S. company UltraCell, Denmark-based SerEnergy, as well as German-based fischer eco solutions), Advent became an integrated manufacturer covering the entire vertical supply chain, as well as expanded its innovative technologies and product offerings worldwide, with clients in Europe, Asia, and the U.S. 2022 has also been a milestone year for us. The potential of our technology is being evaluated by major companies in the automotive industry, such as Hyundai Motor Company, and we are already in advanced discussions with industry leaders. In July 2022, Advent received official ratification from the E.U. for the Green HiPo project.
This a monumental project for Advent, Greece, and Europe since it will contribute to Western Macedonia’s transition from a coal-based economy to a greener economic model and meet the E.U. target of 10 million tonnes of renewable hydrogen production in Europe by 2030. At the same time, we work with the U.S. Department of Defense and the Hellenic Army, providing portable fuel cell products that can be used quickly and efficiently by military units. It is worth mentioning that Advent recently signed an agreement with the German State of Brandenburg for the supply of methanol-powered fuel cell systems that will replace the diesel-driven emergency power systems at Brandenburg’s BOS digital radio network.
Q: In your experience, what are the challenges that CEOs and senior executives have to manage today?
Dr. Vasilis Gregoriou: Undeniably, we live at a time of global turbulence brought about by external factors such as the continued COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation, and unforeseen geopolitical developments.
In my opinion, the ability of CEOs and senior executives to modify business models in accordance with changing circumstances is becoming more critical than ever.
Furthermore, attracting and retaining talent and integrating teams from different geographies in new businesses is a significant challenge that needs to be overcome for a company to be sustainable and prosperous.
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