Mike Graff, head of Air Liquide’s US operations, is bullish on hydrogen

At the forefront of the effort to develop hydrogen energy is Air Liquide, the more than century-old French industrial giant, which maintains large operations in Houston. Mike Graff, the CEO of the company’s American operations, sat down to talk about hydrogen’s past, present and future.

Q: There’s been a fair amount of buzz around hydrogen energy in recent years. What are your expectations on where this is going?

A: The estimates today would suggest that hydrogen over the next 30 years could grow up to 20 percent of the world’s total energy demand. A lot of that in transportation, and some of that industrial use for feed stocks, for heating and another big application could be as part of grid backup, in order to enable the use of renewable power generated from solar or from wind that obviously is not available all the time. You’re able to convert that into hydrogen and and then utilize it as needed.

Q: Clearly, a big factor in hydrogen demand is going to be greenhouse gas regulations. So far, a lot of promises have been made by governments, but not a lot of policy to carry it through. When does that change?

A: I think we’ve reached that tipping point, and it’s going to evolve around the world. We clearly see in Europe today not just talk but action. You see active projects that have been invested in. They’re being engineered, they’re being built and they’re being started up, with the clear purpose of reducing the amount of carbon from a climate perspective. Within the U.S. a few states are very interested and they’ve started to work that so we’re helping see that they get funded.

More on the interview here.