— 5 min read

Bhavita Lacmane started in April 2020 as one of Protium’s first original employees. Bhavita started as an intern and is now a Senior Project Analyst. She has seen great change, both within the company and the industry amongst her two years at Protium. Here are her thoughts on the two years in review and the future ahead.

Now you have been in the green hydrogen industry for two years, how does it compare to your initial preconceptions of the industry? What differs? What do you want to see change?

Two years ago, commercial scalability of renewable energy felt like a solution of the future and the concept of green hydrogen was only ever going to be a niche market. The green energy industry remained unconventional and strategies for mass implementation were far too vague. Since then, the shift in perception on renewable energy and green hydrogen has drastically improved due to; global affairs, public pressure, and better assessment of alternative low carbon technologies. A growing number of countries around the world have also begun committing to net- zero, with green hydrogen being a key aspect of their national strategy to move away from fossil fuel. Publicly announced UK strategies, starting with the ten-point plan, has accelerated movement in green hydrogen much faster than I had anticipated and this has provided me with the opportunity to establish myself as an expert in the industry. Although there has been a very recent announcement to double 2030 hydrogen power targets in the UK, I believe more could be done to establish a pathway to make green hydrogen the preferred source of hydrogen overtime, ultimately transitioning away from grey and blue hydrogen.

What have you enjoyed the most about the industry, and Protium specifically?

Over the past two years, the integration of technology into the industry has become more apparent. It is fascinating to experience the many ways which technology can be applied into the green hydrogen sector. One such example is how Protium is leading the way in developing a digital twin to stimulate hydrogen refuelling for aircraft and I have been fortunate enough to gain insight and training into this new technology. In addition to the digital twin software, I have also enjoyed implementing automation into process design for a project, which facilitated process analysis and optimisation. Looking forward I hope to improve my skills with the software and understanding its potential with future Protium projects.

Additionally, I have also learnt about other green hydrogen combustion innovations, which have been important and interesting attributes to my development. There are, however, a few limitations to the practicality of hydrogen combustion and to a few existing heating configurations. Through feasibility studies and independent research, it has been exciting to investigate the knowledge gaps within the industry as well as at universities, to further understand the ambiguity. Working on more collaborations in the future could possibly lead to breakthrough innovations and significant scientific findings, which is exciting to be a part of.

Now lockdown is over, how has your second year differed to your first year at Protium/the industry?

As restrictions have eased, there has been a steady roll out of attendance at the office, allowing me to finally meet all members of the team. Being able to meet in person has improved collaboration significantly and has made the entire team feel personable and approachable. It is great to have the opportunity to understand someone beyond their job title as it can be helpful to know what other skills and talent people possess. Additionally, getting to collaborate with members from different project teams and departments results in quicker and better access to knowledge. Beyond this, I was fortunate enough to visit a manufacturing site of a project I had been working on. This allowed me to be involved in a real-life collaboration with EPC partners and visit our future hydrogen production facility in Teesside. All of which really helped with discussions surrounding site layout and cable strategy for planning and permitting.

What do you want to learn/achieve this coming year to continue your development within the green hydrogen industry?

There are a lot of exciting projects and opportunities in the pipeline for Protium, not only in the UK, but potentially across Europe too. Within the existing projects, I am eager to be working on the FEED and detailed engineering side of project development. It will be gratifying to see our preliminary theorised data analysis calculations enhanced to a real-life and practical scale. As the projects begin to develop, I look forward to solving oncoming challenges relating to the planning and engineering work. Additionally, as green hydrogen is newly established in Teesside; I am hopeful that the learnings of the development will form the basis of more stringent regulations surrounding hydrogen in the UK. This, in turn, could influence more hydrogen production facilities to be built and could increase confidence in development.

I hope to further develop my skills in other industrial applications of hydrogen, or even, work on a feasibility project surrounding oxygen, as a by-product of electrolysis. An exciting prospect would be to explore the possibility of implementing new technology into the hydrogen production design, for example, looking at alternative storage options for hydrogen, thus, making movement and transportation of hydrogen easier.

What do you think of Protium’s growth and what do you envision for Protium?

A lot of exciting and unimaginable times lie ahead for Protium, and I am thrilled to continue to be part of that journey. With hydrogen gaining traction in the UK, Protium will inevitability continue to grow and evolve its strategy and operation. I foresee many Protium projects favouring a hydrogen hub approach, where the focus of business development will be location proximity. It would be great to see more feasibility studies performed on a range of transport applications, particularly in the maritime sector. Other advances in digitalisation would also be interesting for Protium to pursue, especially as projects begin to mature and operate. The digitalisation of assets is useful for forecasting and performance capability. Utilising certificates of origin can improve the confidence and reliability of the source of hydrogen and implementing artificial intelligence for rapid anomaly detection to monitor various KPIs could facilitate a reduction in costs and energy consumption, as well as building a streamlined workforce. Leveraging reliable and accurate data can improve the transparency of the business plan for investors and key decision makers, as well as improving the efficiency of processes for future projects at Protium.

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