Paul Rodden • Season: 2023 • Episode: 257
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In episode 257, A massive announcement between the state of New Mexico and Star Scientific could lay down the framework for a regional hydrogen ecosystem. I've been lucky enough to speak to one of the masterminds behind this development, and now get to share it with you on today's hydrogen podcast.
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A massive announcement between the state of New Mexico and Star Scientific could lay down the framework for a regional hydrogen ecosystem. I've been lucky enough to speak to one of the masterminds behind this development, and now get to share it with you on today's hydrogen podcast.
Okay, I'm going to actually skip the intro today so we can listen to a quick word from the sponsor of today's podcast. From water electolyzers to flow batteries and fuel cells, Nafion™ Proton Exchange Membranes play a major role in advancing the Hydrogen Economy. Through their high conductivity, superior strength, and chemical durability, Nafion™ membranes provide the performance needed to make green hydrogen safer, more sustainable, and more affordable. Learn how Nafion™ ion exchange materials support the decarbonization of energy across the globe at www.nafion.com. Now back to the show.
In a press release today, October 26, Australian based Star Scientific chooses New Mexico for North American expansion. New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Star Scientific Limited Global Group Chair Andrew Horvath announced today that the Australian based green hydrogen Research and Development Company has chosen New Mexico as location for its first Northern American operation. Star scientific formalize the announcement by signing a letter of intent with Governor Lujan Grisham at the Sustainable Energy Council's Asia Pacific hydrogen summit and exhibition in Sydney on Thursday. And a quote from Horvath the very earliest conversations the officials in New Mexico outlined their long term commitment to hydrogen and the benefits of their state for a company such as Star scientific.
He continues by saying we were impressed by their whole of government approach to manufacturing logistics, higher education and research and their vision for the role that hydrogen will play in their future. He says we were equally impressed that they had holistically planned important human details such as housing for families that will work out at our facility, education incentives for their children, and Lifestyle and Leisure infrastructure. There's also an infectious can do attitude, which appeals to we Australians very much. Now so far this year, Governor Lujan Grisham has announced the recruitment of New Mexico companies from Singapore, Taiwan, Germany, and now Australia. And in a quote from Governor Lujan Grisham, New Mexico is on the map for companies looking for the best place to invest in clean energy solutions that drive the global economy forward star scientifics arrival in New Mexico is a win for the next generation of jobseekers looking to make a difference, the letter of intent commit star scientific to an intensive process of planning and negotiation of a site for a joint research and mass manufacturing facility in the Mesa Del Sol district of Albuquerque.
The company is looking for up to 50 acres and invest $100 million into New Mexico with seven to 10 buildings for administration, design, testing, manufacturing, as well as laboratory research. The company plans to hire up to 200 employees in New Mexico and is currently in negotiations with the state economic development department for an incentive package that would include assistance from the job creation fund under the Local Economic Development Act, LEDA as well as assistance for job training. Once operating star scientific would also qualify for manufacturing tax credits, and for hiring high wage workers. With locations in Australia and Switzerland star scientific is responsible for developing the award winning and globally patented hero catalyst that chemically catalyzes hydrogen and oxygen to rapidly create industrial scale heat without burning the gases and without generating greenhouse gases. The only other output is pure water. The technology will be used for off grid power, desalination and heavy industrial production where high temperatures are needed.
Again, in a quote from Horvath, the facility in New Mexico will mirror the facility we build in Australia and it will service customers in the United States, Canada and initially South America. He says we will be developing greenhouse gas free process heat systems for industry and standalone power systems. While continuing research on other projects. Horvath credited New Mexico State agencies for their commitment to the project thanking Environment Secretary James Kenney for his leadership in bringing star scientific to New Mexico and in a quote from Environment Department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney when we set a high bar for climate goals and environmental protection companies and investors from around the globe anchor their commitments in New Mexico.
He says star scientifics investment in New Mexico is a welcome addition to our state, and I welcome their clean hydrogen manufacturing and research campus to our state. Okay, so some really monumental news out of New Mexico. And as a native New Mexican, I couldn't be more excited to announce this news. I also had an amazing opportunity to sit with the environmental department Cabinet Secretary James Kenney and discuss this announcement with star scientific for their first North American facility. He and his team have been working hard to develop the hydrogen industry in the state. And this announcement is a big win for their efforts. Now, there's a lot to cover regarding this announcement. And much of what's happening in New Mexico can have extremely broad impacts, not just in the US, but globally.
Now, to start, I want to dive into something Jim and I discussed, which was New Mexico not being selected for the hydrogen hub IRA funding, even though they were understandably upset not being chosen, according to Jim, quote, as someone from the southwest who is lead hydrogen in the Southwest, and that being his focus in the environmental department, he wonders if the DoE's calculus viewed this Southwest as a region that is already up and running. And that's a viewpoint that I can understand.
Nikola with their Hyla project in Arizona, and BayoTech already in New Mexico showcases a robust hydrogen network in the region. Jim also stated that all four of their project partners have reaffirmed their commitments, as well as three to four new potential partners looking to sign on for hydrogen development since the announcements were made. Ultimately, now that the hub announcements have been made, and funding allocations envisioned, New Mexico has more investment with no federal strings. And with that motivation, they are moving forward on the belief that the hub that they're creating be it in Albuquerque and with the other four states will be so nimble and with a workforce opportunity, we'll see a hydrogen production and takeaway production happen sooner than with the other hubs that have to go through multiple gates to see that funding.
Now, this is a big point. And I wonder if other large hub opportunities that didn't receive federal funding, we'll see more private investment as these opportunities have fewer regulatory hurdles to overcome to get developed. Now, star has said that their pursuit in New Mexico was never contingent on the DOJ announcement. And while I believe that I'm sure it had a role to play in their operational strategies, but to the actual development of this project, there are some important numbers to highlight. But the most prominent is the 100 million dollars, that star is looking at investing in this facility, also 200 employees and a 50 acre campus with construction to be completed by q4 of 2025.
Now this press release briefly touched on it. But Jim and I spoke much more to this, and it bears looking more into which are the facilities being developed outside of manufacturing. A very large portion of this project will be dedicated to education and building a workforce capable of sustaining a hydrogen economy. Now, this is something that I don't speak too much on this show. But it is something critical to the hydrogen economy, not just thriving, but being able to scale at a rate that the world is needing, yes, legacy oil has an abundance of knowledge and experience and handling hydrogen, but that knowledge and experience is relatively localized. And I can envision this campus as a place where anyone can go to gain that knowledge base to enable them to be that next generation oilfield service personnel. I can only hope that other hubs that have gotten this DoE funding will incorporate this sort of training, not just for current employment needs, but for generational employment, decades down the road. And lastly, on the technology for this project.
What I can say is that this is a water feedstock technology that claims to be nearly self sustaining. Hopefully in the future I can get star on the show to discuss their technology in more detail. Because from what I've heard so far, the tech seems too good to be true. And I would love to be able to dive in a bit deeper and see just how this tech works. Because from what I've heard, at a very high level, this technology could be a massive game changer.
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