Hazer Group (ASX:HZR) Commercial Development Plant investment to proceed

Interviews

by Anna Napoli

Hazer Group (ASX:HZR) CEO & Managing Director, Geoff Ward talks about FY20 achievements, its final investment decision for its Commercial Development Plant to process low emissions hydrogen gas and high purity graphite production from biogas, development and commercial programs.

Anna Napoli: Hello. Anna Napoli for the Finance News Network. Joining me from Hazer Group is CEO and managing director, Geoff Ward. Geoff, welcome back.

Geoff Ward: Good afternoon, Anna, and nice to join you again.

Anna Napoli: Hazer Group is leading the move to a low emissions energy future through its technology. What's the company's focus?

Geoff Ward: Our focus is the commercialization of the Hazer process, a low emission process for producing hydrogen and graphite. We take a methane molecule from biogas or natural gas, and using an iron or catalyst, we convert it into hydrogen for transport fuel and a graphite byproduct that can be used in batteries, lubricants, or other advanced materials, applications.

Anna Napoli: Thanks, Jeff. The last year I understand has been very busy for Hazer. Would you provide an update on the key achievements, starting with your FY20 results?

Geoff Ward: Last financial year has been a real milestone for the company as we've moved out of the pilot plant and into our first Commercial Demonstration Project. So through financial 2020, we entered into a collaboration with the Water Corporation to build the first fully scaled, fully integrated Hazer process on the Woodman Point Wastewater Treatment Plant South of Perth.

So through 2020, we did the initial design work. We agreed to buy biogas and access the Woodman Plant site to build the project. We secured funding from ARENA, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and we undertook design and project costing. That all came together right at the end of FY20 with us taking a final investment decision on the project and moving into the construction and procurement stages as we speak at the start of this year.

Anna Napoli: Thanks, Jeff. What's ahead for Hazer going forward past the financial year?

Geoff Ward: Well, the focus for this year very much is on the design, fabrication, construction and commissioning of the commercial demonstration plant. That will be 100 ton per annum hydrogen production facility using waste gas produced through the water treatment facilities. That will be the plight of the project's main focus, but in parallel to that, we're working with potential commercial customers in Europe, in Asia and in Australia, which can take advantage of this first demonstration site to move into commercial projects.

Anna Napoli: So speaking of those commercial opportunities and partnerships, what opportunities do you see for hydrogen in Australia?

Geoff Ward: Well, hydrogen's got many uses, as I'm sure most of the viewers know. We're particularly interested in the use of hydrogen as a replacement for diesel and heavy transport. It was something that was really strongly supported by the National Hydrogen Strategy developed by Professor Finkel. We're starting to see some really interesting projects to deploy hydrogen vehicles in Australia, in buses, in waste fleets and potentially in road transport.

So we have entered into a feasibility study, for instance, along with a study group comprising Macquarie and Hyzon Motors, a vehicle manufacturer, to look at establishing a refueling hub in Mandurah, South of Perth, that could take renewable hydrogen and replace diesel and heavy transport.

Anna Napoli: Jeff, turning to funding, how's the company place?

Geoff Ward: The company's in a very fortunate position of being well-funded for this next phase of our operations. We've been well-supported by our shareholders and by the capital markets. We undertook a capital raising in June of this year that was significantly oversubscribed, and we raised more money than we initially targeted. Together with a senior secured loan facility from an Australian financier and our ARENA grant funding, we have enough funding to build the commercial demonstration plant and operate it for the first year, and to continue our research and development and our international business development activities for the next two years.

Anna Napoli: So Jeff, with all this funding in place, what's the outlook for this financial year?

Jeff Ward: Well, the key milestone for us is to obviously successfully fabricate commission and then operate the Commercial Demonstration Project, because that'll be the first fully integrated, continuously operated version of the Hazer process. That will really demonstrate that we're ready to scale up to commercial projects.

In parallel, now that we have the design data from the CDP, and now that we've advanced our understanding of the technology into how you deploy it in a range of industrial and commercial settings, we're seeing more and more interest from potential commercial partners, as I said, Australia and internationally. So, we'll work with them to try and mature those concepts to feasibility study stage.

Then the third big platform is continuing to work with our various partners at the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Center, where we host our R&D platform, where we're working on the Hazer graphite and all the multitude of uses for our graphite in future markets.

Anna Napoli: Jeff, well, thanks for the update and congratulations on the progress.

Geoff Ward: Thank you, Anna.


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