Every hero has an extraordinary story, and this is even more true of our hydrogen heroes. So here is the story of Flore de Durfort, CEO & Co-founder of Point Twelve, a SaaS platform that enables goods producers to certify their green production.
Can you tell me what you did for a living before entering the world of hydrogen?
I have always been passionate about the energy transition. I studied energy markets and their regulation. And then I spent 10 years working for major electricity and gas producers and resellers, between Europe and the United States.
In this sector, I have always had a strong appetite for new business development and sales. And in 2017, I took a very tech and data turn: before founding Point Twelve, I was in charge of data monetization for E.ON, in a data team of 80 people.
Peter Parker became Spiderman because of a radioactive spider bite; Who bit you on hydrogen?
I worked at the crossroads of the gas, electricity and carbon markets, so all the ingredients were there for me to get into hydrogen!
Right from the start, I was driven by the fact that hydrogen is essential for decarbonizing industry. It has its place in the energy transition, alongside renewable electricity and carbon capture. And industry is going to have to produce, sell and buy certified low-carbon products - without it becoming a gas factory!
With Point Twelve, we are working to rethink low-carbon certification. Our focus is hydrogen, because it is an extremely interesting practical case for our vision: the automation of certification.
Today, certification is far too archaic!
And what would happen if we stayed with the existing certification system?
If we stay with a twentieth-century system, I see two major problems:
- A lot of time and money will be wasted on this. Verifying production, of hydrogen for example, requires a lot of manual data entry by on-site agents and, on top of that, audits which are both costly and less efficient than our continuous, real-time analysis solution (an audit only records a production sample).
On top of that, we are also losing time with the competition that exists today between different labels, and this fragmentation is dangerous. For example, imagine a green hydrogen producer in Spain who wants to export to another European country: right now, not all countries have the same certification system, so other countries don't necessarily "recognize" foreign certifications. That's why at Point Twelve we offer a digital passport per batch, which can be integrated into national registers as our projects progress. The aim is to automate certification across borders.
- There is a risk that players will lose confidence in less-than-transparent certifications. Today, there are few simple, reliable ways of proving that you are really producing something renewable and green. A lot of public money is being invested, many customers are interested in this subject, and the slightest failure on the part of one player could have an impact on all the others. Our solution is there to maximize the confidence of consumers, the regulator and the producers themselves in the sustainability of what they produce.
Peter Pan, Captain Hook, Zorro, Sergeant Garcia all fight against an enemy ... what do you battle against on a daily basis?
My daily battle: evangelism! A lot of people wonder why hydrogen has not taken off yet? Well, we have been talking about it for a long time now, and some people have been disappointed by a few announcements. Every day I bring them factual arguments to say that we have no choice but to turn to hydrogen, that it is not a gadget solution.
And then there are all those who are just starting out with hydrogen and don't yet understand the regulatory issues. We need to explain to them the complexity of the regulations (with the new European regulations on renewable fuels, we are reaching a level never before seen in oil and gas or electricity), the technical complexity of implementation and, above all, the financial impact.
If hydrogen isn't green, it will not be in demand, and it will not be subsidized.
What battles have you won that makes you stronger?
Every customer and every investor convinced that it is now and with us - it gives us tremendous energy. We are in the process of completing a fund-raising round that will enable us to redouble our efforts to get our decarbonized gas and fuel activities off the ground. We are succeeding more and more in making people understand that this certification issue needs to be tackled head-on now, that in 2 years of time it will be too late, and that we need to tackle it in a new way. Awareness is gradually building: customers are asking for it, regulators are asking for it, investors are asking for it... the subject is hot, and we have a solution!
What advice would you give to someone wanting to launch an innovative project?
Two things: "Just do it" and "Look for partners whose values are close to your own".
To elaborate a little, I find that the best way to convince is often to do, to take action as quickly as possible. Going fast means working first not necessarily with the "big names", but with partners who share the same values, the same vision and the same "doer" mindset.