IAA Voices: Interview Air Products
Caroline Stancell is General Manager, Hydrogen for Mobility, Europe and Africa. She has regional responsibility for the company’s Hydrogen for Mobility business in the Europe and Africa Region, driving growth, profitability and operational excellence.
Ms Stancell, first of all please tell me more about your background and current role at Air Products?
When I grew up, I really liked maths and science, and I had a very inspiring chemistry teacher, which always helps. It seemed logical to me to choose a study in this direction and I decided to study chemical engineering. But, if I'm quite honest, without knowing much about what it actually entailed. Eventually I ended up working in the chemical industry and the choice for studying chemical engineering has proven to be quite an inspired one. Think about the things you can be involved in with this background, like the challenges we face in the climate crisis. Chemistry, engineering and science offers so much room for innovation to really make a difference to the world with solutions that matter.
In my present role of General Manager Hydrogen for Mobility, Europe and Africa at Air Products I feel so energized by the challenges and actions we need to undertake in order to move from today’s high carbon emitting society to one that is cleaner energy and sustainable without giving up everything that we love.
Diversity plays a key role in the transition to a clean energy society. However, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) indicated that women make up only a third of the workforce in the renewable energy sector. What is it like for a woman to have a leadership position in the energy transition?
I think we need all voices because climate change is not a problem that we can solve with one third or one half of our society. If we want to have a chance of achieving the necessary change, we need a lot of scientists and the entire society involved to help build consensus, and to help to build momentum to change from where we are to where we need to be in a quite dramatically short period of time. I believe that if we can get more women involved in leadership positions, we could motivate a larger part of the female population to get involved with driving the changes we need to make to achieve our climate targets. A larger part of the population might feel that they had both the opportunity and the obligation to drive change. I think we have to show women and girls of all ages, backgrounds and educations that they can get involved and contribute. It’s important and also exciting.
Let's talk specifically about hydrogen and the decarbonization of transport and the industry. How great is the potential of hydrogen with regard to heavy-duty transport in general? And what does it take for this potential to actually come to fruition?
Green hydrogen can play a crucial role in diversifying energy sources in a sustainable and responsible way. In principle, varying amounts of the renewable energy needed for green hydrogen production can be found in every country in the world, a distribution of resources that is fundamentally different from oil and gas. However, a number of countries do not have sufficient renewable energy potential to meet their hydrogen energy needs, so renewable hydrogen will need to move between countries, with some becoming net exporters and others net importers. This reality is reflected in the number of national “memoranda of understanding” that have been signed between potential providers and potential consumers of renewable hydrogen over the past years. In March 2022, the European Commission announced a ground-breaking plan to address Europe's energy crisis: REPowerEU. The detailed implementation measures to follow will dramatically accelerate the demand for hydrogen. For example, the REPowerEU proposal adds up to 10 million tonnes per year of imported hydrogen from diverse sources and 5 million tonnes per year of European-produced hydrogen in 2030, in addition to the 5 million tonnes per year overall target in the Fit for 55 package. To meet the REPowerEU targets, it is important that the EU and member states accelerate their collaboration to support investments globally.
How can Air Products contribute to these targets?
Air Products is the world's largest hydrogen producer. We drive innovation and sustainability through our own advanced technologies, ensuring a safe, reliable and efficient production process. Our technology has been used in more than 250 hydrogen refueling projects worldwide and already today, more than 1,5 million refuelings are carried out each year using Air Products‘ technology.
By producing and distributing clean hydrogen energy solutions for use in heavy-duty fuel cell vehicles, industrial applications and energy storage, we will help support the hydrogen energy transition, minimising carbon emissions and reducing reliance on finite energy resources. We cannot do this alone so we continue to work closely with European policy makers and partners who have committed to making hydrogen a reality. Policies supporting both domestic production and import of hydrogen will speed up the development of the European hydrogen economy, encouraging the broad implementation of technologies in which Air Products is a globally recognized specialist.
We are actively pursuing renewable hydrogen projects in the EU as well as complementary export-driven projects in regions of the world where the conditions are good for the reliable production of the renewable electricity needed for production of hydrogen. An example of the latter is the NEOM Green Hydrogen Project; onstream by 2026 and with an intended production of 650t/d, this is the leading large-scale green hydrogen project. Europe, along with other parts of the world, hasalready been identified as an attractive destination for a proportion of the project’s production, for use in the decarbonization of heavy-duty vehicles and industry. REPowerEU has increased the importance to the EU of first-mover projects like the NEOM Green Hydrogen Project.
You already mentioned the heavy-duty vehicles. How would you define Air Products' role in this area?
Very concretely for heavy-duty mobility, Air Products has recently announced the construction of multiple hydrogen refueling stations across Europe. In Germany, we will build a second hydrogen refueling station in Hürth (Cologne area). In addition to the buses and garbage trucks of Stadtwerke Hürth, it will also offer third parties the opportunity to refuel their vehicles with hydrogen as it is designed for 350 and 700 bar filling. In The Netherlands, we will realize the largest hydrogen refuelling station for trucks, initially supplying zero-emission trucks from Air Products, Schenk and other early hydrogen adopters in the Rotterdam port area.
Finally: What can visitors of the Air Products stand at the IAA TRANSPORTATION look forward to?
The IAA TRANSPORTATION is the ideal platform for a direct exchange with all those who want to drive forward the decarbonisation of transport. This includes manufacturers of heavy-duty vehicles and buses as well as fleet managers from the transport sector who need to achieve their targets for reducing CO2 emissions.
I’m very excited to be able to say that Air Products is one of the sponsors of this year’s IAA Transportation. I’m thrilled to be a keynote speaker on Thursday September 22nd where the theme will be focusing on infrastructure. As Air Products is an expert in the full hydrogen supply chain, I’m looking forward to share our expertise and insights on hydrogen infrastructure with the audience.
We are really looking forward to attending the IAA TRANSPORTATION Show; where we will be showcasing our mobile refuelling station in the outside area and make it available for exhibitors to fuel their vehicles for their demonstrations. We invite visitors to our stand C21 in hall 24 where we can meet and discuss our end-to-end solutions for all fleet sizes, which include hydrogen delivery, storage and refuelling.
Ms Stancell joined Air Products Career Development Programme in 1989 after completing her university education. Over her career she has held sales and marketing positions of increasing responsibility working in all sectors of the industrial gas business. In 2014 she became Marketing Director for the Europe and Africa Region. With the burgeoning growth potential for hydrogen as an energy source she transitioned to her present role of General Manager Hydrogen for Mobility, Europe and Africa.
Ms Stancell holds degrees in Chemical Engineering and Managerial Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Sloan School of Management.