Powerhouse Energy Group PLC (LON:PHE) Chief Executive Officer Keith Allaun caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the appointment of Waste2Tricity as Project Development Consultant, the G3 UHt ultra-high temperature demonstration gasification system and the MOU with Peel Environmental
Q1: Keith, you’ve had a strong of news recently, can you tell us a bit more about the appointment of Waste2Tricity as your Project Development Consultant?
A1: Absolutely Giles, I think you hit it on the head that we’ve had a strong of news and this is really, we believe, the tip of the iceberg. Before I get into the specifics of Waste2Tricity, I really want to highlight the fact that Powerhouse Energy has finally reached a significant inflection point and we’ve really turned the corner and have learned so many lessons over the past 4 years since we effectively taken the company forward from the position it was in. So, we’re now in a place to leverage a newly-designed, truly-engineered, tested, scalable, replicable, commercialisable technology as a core to the development of project and as we started looking at our underlying business model and how we wanted to move forward, we recognised that being a technology provider was not fundamentally what Powerhouse Energy was about. Having a robust technology at the core of development in the delivery of the project is important, having a technology that allows us to out-compete was important, having a technology that is efficient and economical and environmentally-friendly is important but fundamentally being the technology provider was only one component of what we envisioned ourselves to be.
So, we’ve been in a relationship with Waste2Tricity literally over the past 4 years, Waste2Tricity has provided informal consultation to the company, has been a true friend to Powerhouse and a Watste2Tricity subsidiary, Waste2Tricity Thailand, we signed an agreement with them to have the exclusive rights for the distribution of our technology in Thailand. Subsequently, we’ve recognised that being, again, a technology provider is not just what we want to be, what we want to be is a project developer, we want to be part of the ecosystem that is solving the world’s waste challenges. So, by signing an agreement with Waste2Tricity we immediately accelerated the expansion of our team, we went from effectively having ‘no boots on the ground’ in England to having a robust broad network of highly-skilled, highly-experienced executives and professionals in the waste to energy market specifically, people who have been facing the challenges of waste management for years and recognising that there had to be solution. So, it was actually an easy decision to decide to create a relationship with Waste2Tricity whereby we would exclusively be developing projects in the UK, in conjunction with them, their ability to help accelerate the company is something that I can’t underscore enough. So, their background in energy development, in project development, in project scoping truly spans the world and truly spans every component of the industry from collection literally through to power delivery to the National Grid so, the skill set that that brought to us, and in a fashion in which they were willing to take equity in Powerhouse Energy, to work with us, made it very easy for us to make the decision to move forward with them.
Q2: Now, your G3, the UHt ultra-high temperature demonstration gasification system, is en route to the UK as we speak, can you tell us a little bit more about what you’re going to be doing with it once it arrives in the UK?
A2: The point of the demonstration system is truly just that, to show that indeed the technology is robust, it is commercial, it is scalable, that it can handle a variety of feedstocks, that we can tune the synthesis gas that’s coming out of it, that it can be scaled up or scaled down to produce volume of synthesis gas for the generation of electricity, can be part of the distributed grid equation or can become part of the distributed hydrogen economy, about which there’s a lot being said. Now, I can’t talk yet about where the G3 is specifically going to be sited but I can say that we’re in late-stage negotiations with a very exciting organisation and frankly, I could not think of a more synergistic opportunity to be working with the group with whom we’re currently negotiating to have the G3 staged at their facility. The types of facilities that they have under one roof is phenomenal, our ability to bring customers, to bring potential partners, to bring waste stream aggregators, to bring counsels into this facility to show the value proposition of the G3 is frankly unparalleled. So, we’re really thrilled to, shortly, be able to tell you exactly where the G3 is going to be and some of the exciting things that are going to go on because of where it’s going to be.
Q3: Most recently, you’ve signed an MOU with Peel Environmental to work together to pursue the development, construction and operation of an energy from waste plant at Peel Environmental’s facility near Chester. How has the relationship developed and what does it mean for Powerhouse Energy Group PLC?
A3: This is really something that is near and dear to me. We’ve been aware of Peel Environmental’s commitment to really managing the waste challenges of the environment and creating a robust ecosystem of waste management solutions for the UK for quite some time. The opportunity that we have to become a potential cornerstone of their Protos Energy Park is frankly quite phenomenal, frankly we’re quite proud of the fact that we’ve been invited in to join a group of both well-established player in the waste energy business and some other newly-developing organisations in the water to energy business. I think the thing that attracted us to Peel Environment, in particular, is their vision of the future and their vision of a developing waste management ecosystem where truly there is recovery and reuse and where recovery and reuse is not possible then the recovery of the energy value of those components of the waste stream will be possible. The thing that’s important to recognise is that Peel is not saying that there’s a single technology that’s absolutely correct for every component of the waste stream, they’re looking at bringing in member of the Protos Energy Park who are involved in anaerobic digestion, who are involved in hydrogen creation, who are involved in other mechanisms of thermal degradation and who are involved in ultra-high temperature gasification, which is us.
Powerhouse Energy Group has an opportunity to be sited in an industrial environment that is focused on really building a world-class, highly-visible showcase for what waste management overall can look like and so, again the appeal to us was really the shared vision that we have of really creating a better world, that Peel has. The staff at Peel Environmental have just been phenomenal to work with and I’m quite keen for us to finalise our move from MOU to contract phase with Peel and we’re quite confident that that’s going to be occurring. Again, the shared values, the shared commitment and the shared enthusiasm, coupled with the fact that Peel has invested hundreds of millions of pounds into creating an infrastructure, an environment, which we can literally break ground for construction as soon as we’re ready to do so. There’s not the need to build access to the grid, Peel has taken care of that, there’s not need to build in the water infrastructure or other electrical infrastructure or natural gas infrastructure or access to hydrogen export, the roads, the environment that Peel has created at the Protos Park is truly world-class. It is going to be, I believe, the definitive site at which the entire waste management ecosystem is viewed from the rest of the world, people are going to come from around the world to visit the Protos Park, to evaluate various technologies and how those components can play a part in their own waste management challenges.
So, we’re exceptionally excited about our relationship with Peel, and you asked how did that relationship come to be, well the fact is that it came through our relationship with Waste2Tricity and this is one of the things I was saying about Waste2Tricity’s ability to help us accelerate, they literally had us in the office of the CEO of Peel Environmental within a week of signing an agreement with Waste2Tricity. So, our ability to move forward and our ability to, again, begin the acceleration process, I can’t emphasise enough how much work has been done behind the scenes, how much effort has gone into making what was once complex a simple and robust solution that can be rolled out immediately but that has occurred. The G3 is literally on the sea, on the way to the UK as we speak and is going to be sited in an environment which allows us to expand its visibility and expand the testing capabilities and expand the use profile of the machine dramatically.
So, we’re excited about where we stand today, we’re excited about where we’re going, I think that the company is better positioned than it has been, frankly, in the last 2 years, when we recognised that we had to literally redesign technology from first principals because the technology that the company had originally been committed to was not robust, was not scalable and was not sustainable. When we made that decision, we knew there was going to be some pain associated with it, we didn’t envision that it was going to be a 2-year process but it has been a 2 year process and the nice things is that now the 2 years has passed and now it’s time for us to be able to hit the ground running which is what we’re doing. So, the momentum has increased dramatically, the opportunities are coming left and right and we’re excited about moving forward with Peel and with Waste2Tricity so I’d say that as far as an update goes and what’s happened for in the last couple of weeks, that pretty much summarises it. I have to believe that you and I will be talking again in the next few weeks and we’re going to have equally exciting things to talk about.