LØRN case C0244 -
LØRN. STARTUP

Kathrine K Ryengen

CEO

ZEG Power

Hybrid technology

In this episode of #LØRN, Silvija speaks with the CEO of ZEG Power, Kathrine K. Ryengen. She has extensive experience with technology start-ups and from commercializing innovative business models and technologies for industrial applications. Prior to ZEG Power, Ryengen worked for 9 years in Scatec startup companies, including Norsk Titanium, a successful, global leader within additive manufacturing of structural titanium components for aerospace applications, where she was part of the original startup team and served as VP Business Development. ZEG Power works with the efficient production of emission-free hydrogen with their self-developed technology. In the episode, Kathrine tells about this technology and how they are able to capture CO2 from production. She also shares her thoughts about the potential of hydrogen for the Norwegian industry, in addition to the potential of what she refers to as blue hydrogen.
LØRN case C0244 -
LØRN. STARTUP

Kathrine K Ryengen

CEO

ZEG Power

Hybrid technology

In this episode of #LØRN, Silvija speaks with the CEO of ZEG Power, Kathrine K. Ryengen. She has extensive experience with technology start-ups and from commercializing innovative business models and technologies for industrial applications. Prior to ZEG Power, Ryengen worked for 9 years in Scatec startup companies, including Norsk Titanium, a successful, global leader within additive manufacturing of structural titanium components for aerospace applications, where she was part of the original startup team and served as VP Business Development. ZEG Power works with the efficient production of emission-free hydrogen with their self-developed technology. In the episode, Kathrine tells about this technology and how they are able to capture CO2 from production. She also shares her thoughts about the potential of hydrogen for the Norwegian industry, in addition to the potential of what she refers to as blue hydrogen.
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SS: Hello and welcome to a podcast by ONS and Lorn. My name is Sylvia Seres and our topic today is energy technology. My guest is Kathrine Ryengen a CEO of a company called ZEG Power, welcome.

KR: Thank you.

SS: Kathrine you are going to tell us more about your startup but also about some of the stuff you did in the Scatec environment earlier. And before we delve into those topics I would like you to tell us a little bit more about who you are and what drives you.

KR: Sure so my name is Kathrine as you mentioned and my background is basically on a high level ten years from technology consulting area and then followed by ten years within the incubator startup area where I’ve been involved in three different startups within energy and technology so that is where I am education wise. I graduated from NTNU in Trondheim as an engineer back in the days in the field of Industrial Economics and Technology Management followed by MTM in Australia later so what motivates me has a lot to do related to startups and the energy that the area contains and also recently within the energy space.

SS: So you believe in renewable energy but you are somewhat concerned about our speed of adoption and change it to the right diagnosis?

KR: Yes, so it’s been interesting to be in the energy area for over a decade now my first venture was with an Offshore Wind in 2008 in a company called Ocean Wind it was a Scatec company and it’s fascinating to see the tremendous development within Offshore Wind in the past decade after I was involved.

SS: Kathrine I have to ask you, I am a big fan of ...and the whole Scatec environment and they seem to be ten years ahead or too early on everything they did.

KR: Exactly! But it’s true they really do take bold positions I think in those many areas of course within the renewable energy area but also within advanced materials. The other company that I later was involved in and I worked with seven years was a company called Norsk Titanium that has a strategy basically to become the leader within the 3d printing of structural Titanium components for the aerospace industry and other industries which also was very early due to that fact actually now has managed to take that position globally being the first company providing structural Titanium 3d printed parts for Boeing so I think that you need to take those bold decisions early on in order to be a first mover into the market.

SS: I remember Alf telling me about this 3d printed titanium stuff long before I ever heard about 3d printing. It's just having division. So what now?

KR: So I was introduced to my company ZEG Power one and a half years ago and I was very intrigued by the fact that it’s based on a Norwegian technology developed by IFA a well-recognized Norwegian research institute and also the fact that it’s a technology that is enabling green pathogens from gas basically offering a solution to the vast emissions from gas sources basically so hydrogen is a solution in the green energy space but there is not yet a good enough solution for green hydrogen from gas. ZEG technology is basically offering that solution basically.

SS: So to simplify you take CO2 capture and then somehow you use that to produce hydrogen in a very efficient way?

KR: No, so the technology itself takes carbon based gas, it can be natural gas or biogas or some other gas which contains carbon and it reforms it to hydrogen with integrated CO2 capture. Alternative technologies on the market today they reform these gases and then they clean the dirty gases afterwards so it’s a so called post combustion technologies whiles the sectic technology is a pre-combustion technology where you extract the CO2 as part of the process and that has two advantages, one is that you increase the hydrogen yield in the production so it’s a more efficient way of producing hydrogen from gas. The other is that it enables capture with no additional footprint nor cost so it’s what we call in Norwegian Achindreg solution it is a solution that is offering important advantages over current technologies on the markets.

SS: So when you talk about this and the other technologies you work in you often mention several technologies that combine and you say also that you think you are fascinated by the real innovation power where we combine many of these technologies with extreme breakthroughs at the moment.

KR: Exactly, because in the media it’s focused on certain technologies. I actually believe that the solution to the global problem today is a combination of various technologies. I strongly believe in renewable energy and the role of that in the future energy mix but it’s also important to find a solution to exploit gas in sustainable way because what is happening today is that natural gas is viewed as environmentally friendly source of energy because its more so compared to other sources, oil and coal based energy sources, and for that reason many countries are actually going like in Germany now they have decided to close all the coal based plants and substitute it with natural gas and what will then be better than exploiting that natural gas in a green way and that it what ZEG power is offering basically. So that in combination with renewable is a very strong combined offering to the market.

SS: Very often when we talk about new big investments, this is going to affect the way we do our car, energy supplies or house heating...etc, we are very conservative and skeptical about many of these new greener energy sources and we worry that it’s too expensive or is too this or too that, how can one drive this change quickly enough?

KR: Right I think it's an excellent question, it's a very relevant one. There are various ways and I think a major contribution is that the larger companies take a leading role. Equinor is an example it’s now taking on a leading role in terms of major hydrogen initiatives substituting natural gas in UK for heating purposes as an example and transforming natural gas power stations into hydrogen power stations and so forth and the other player that is impressive in my opinion is the Norwegian company called MEL they are also a hydrogen producer and they are developing the market by working together with nuclear models in US basically to create the infrastructure required for hydrogen trucks so working with partners working in the ecosystem around your own companies is very important to develop the infrastructure and then labors for a free technology basically.

SS: Do you have any advantage for doing this in Norway? I am thinking about the ecosystem around other energy industries and access to technologies from your Alma Mata?

KR: Right in terms of ZEG Power, Norway is a great place to be. Norway is a major oil and gas nation, we do have gas resources and the renewable revolution does not hold the challenge of exploiting those gas resources. You can decide to put them and let them stay in the ground or you can utilize it in a green way so I believe... sorry what was the question?

SS: Advantage of being in Norway.

KR: Exactly the advantage of being in Norway is that we are close to the natural gas resources, we are close to the companies that are producing and utilizing those resources and we also have obviously a strong legacy in oil and gas industry that can be directly utilized in the green energy space.

SS: Where do you go to learn?

KR: So I learn, personally I learn everyday together with IFA being on the technology side and energy side of things. I learn when I go to conferences and discuss with the potential partners and other people within the hydrogen area I basically learn by doing.

SS: And do you have any international inspiration?

KR: International inspiration within hydrogen or more general?

SS: You chose.

KR: Yes. I think from a Norwegian point of view I am impressed with MEL as I mentioned. I am also impressed with several of the Scatec companies including Scatec Solar and what they have achieved in solar and I’m generally impressed with how offshore wind technology has been developing over the last decade.

SS: Surprised by the speed of price maturity?

KR: Yes exactly and also the projections ten years ago in terms of what was the price that you had to achieve in order to make this economically sustainable and the speed in which that was achieved.

SS: So I’m wondering why are people so hard to convince still?

KR: Exactly, I think generally it’s hard for people to change and then it’s also a lot of invested capital infrastructure in the established industries obviously. A lot of power in the oil and gas industry and a lot of economic value in those industries and it’s a technology swap that will most likely involve new actors that may benefit and maybe the old actors may not be able to benefit in the same way so it’s obviously resistance for them to give up that power and that is why we in ZEG and others in the hydrogen community is glad to see that Equinor and Shell and those traditional oil and gas companies are actually looking into investing into hydrogen and near us.

SS: You believe that ZEG power will be profitable relatively soon?

KR: Definitely, the opportunity for ZEG is global and large. I think we’ll play a role, we will not be the solution to all the challenges obviously but we would play a role in the solution and I think there are great opportunities to become a large player but also a very profitable one due to the intrinsic cost reduction potential of the technology compared to current technologies.

SS: Is there a quote you would like to leave as a parting present to our listeners?

KR: Well I’m not sure but I recently read an article where the headline was “Blue Hydrogen a no-brainer for Europe” and just to explain that the term blue hydrogen, hydrogen comes from two main sources either from electrolysis of water or from gas. And gas today constitutes 98% of the produced hydrogen. So blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen from gas including CO2 capture basically which is what ZEG is offering a solution to. What’s green hydrogen is then referring to renewable electrolysis. So this quote came from Equinor and it's a very important quote because it’s really underlining the potential for ZEG Power and blue hydrogen.

SS: Blue hydrogen, we’ll remember that, I like that. If people are to remember one thing from our conservation, what would you like to be?

KR: I think for me it’s really important for the listeners to understand the potential that hydrogen can have for Norway and Norwegian industry and particularly obviously blue hydrogen.

SS: Kathrine Ryengen from ZEG power thank you so much for coming here and inspiring us to learn more about blue hydrogen.

KR: Thank you so much.

SS: Thank you for listening.

Who is Kathrine and what drives you?

I am an engineer and I have spent a decade in technology consulting, as well as 10 years working with the development and commercialisation of new technology. I first became interested in energy technology back in 2008, while I was working for an offshore wind start-up owned by Scatec. I later became optimistic when I saw the tremendous global developments within renewable energy.

What are you doing at work?

I am currently leading the efforts to achieve the successful commercialisation of an energy start-up called ZEG Power.

What are the most important concepts in energy technology (your sub-branch)?

I believe that the most important concept in energy technology is the combination of technologies. By combining technologies, we can achieve green energy generation and utilisation. Renewable energy generation is critical to achieving global emission targets and a circular economy. However, a bold renewable strategy will also need to be balanced with technologies that enable power balancing. Green hydrogen is expected to play an important role in the future energy mix.

Why is it exciting?

Working to commercialise ZEG Power is exciting on many levels. I find commercialising Norwegian innovations and patents very rewarding. In addition, contributing to a positive environmental impact also gives meaning and substance. On top of that, you have the excitement of building a team, being exposed to new market developments – and having fun along the way.

Your own favourite projects in energy technology?

My favourite projects have been in the application of the ZEG technology. It can be used to upgrade biogas to green hydrogen, enabling a negative CO2 footprint when utilizing the Bio-CO2. In addition, the ZEG technology provides for green hydrogen generation from natural gas, reducing CO2 emissions from industry – and that’s exciting.

Your other favourite examples of energy technology internationally and nationally?

I’m impressed with how the Norwegian company Nel has taken lead in the global Hydrogen market, and the impact of their efforts on the transport sector. I am also generally impressed by the size and maturity of solar power projects, as well as the global increase in offshore wind projects.

How do you usually explain energy technology?

I usually start by explaining the problems associated with CO2 and how current solutions, such as CO2 capture, are costly and inefficient – and thus not viable in the long term. I go on to describe the ZEG Power Solution for reforming hydrocarbon gas to hydrogen, which will not only reduce emissions, but also save costs and help companies of all sizes meet industry standards.

Kathrine K Ryengen
CEO
ZEG Power
CASE ID: C0244
TEMA: ENABLING AND DISRUPTIVE TECH
DATE : 190206
DURATION : 17 min
YOU WILL LØRN ABOUT:
ZEG TechnologyEnergy.Tech Hydrogen CO2-fangst
QUOTE
"VI må forstå potensiale hydrogen kan ha for Norge og norsk industri, og spesielt potensialet til “blue hydrogen”."
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