Lyon Group chair main investor in $15B green hydrogen project

David Green, the chairman of ambitious solar and battery storage company Lyon Group, has emerged as the primary investor in Aqua Aerem, whose $15 billion green hydrogen project in the Northern Territory has a new partner in Japan’s Osaka Gas.

Green is the managing director of Singapore-based Sanguine Impact Investments, which has raised $US250 million and committed $1 billion to the Desert Bloom renewable hydrogen project, which Green currently believes may be expanded to 20GW.

As CEO of Lyon Group, Green garnered widespread attention for a succession of large-scale solar and battery storage projects announced by the company in 2018 and 2019, albeit none have yet materialized.

Rather than that, Lyon and its numerous businesses became entangled in a series of disputes and legal lawsuits with equipment suppliers and investors, which resulted in the winding up of at least one of them.

Green’s LinkedIn profile, which he chairs and in which Sanguine owns a majority ownership, includes no mention of his connection in Sanguine or Aqua Aerem.

Similarly, Sanguine’s website makes no reference to Green. Aqua Aerem’s media representatives were likewise unaware of the links, but confirmed Green’s identity when directed to his LinkedIn page: “That is our David.”

Green has been coy about his involvement with Desert Bloom in comments on LinkedIn about other hydrogen projects, like this one from a month ago about a large hydrogen project in Texas, in which he supports Desert Bloom as a “interesting possibility.”

He also states on LinkedIn that he “understands” that Desert Bloom has “committed funding” and secured a partnership with “one of the top three Japanese gas purchasers.” He makes no mention of his involvement in those transactions.

Desert Bloom Hydrogen, according to Aqua Aerem, is a “world-first initiative” that will generate “fully renewable hydrogen for domestic and international markets utilizing just off-grid renewable energy and its own atmospheric water source.”

It is one of a number of highly ambitious renewable energy projects in Australia, including Intercontinental’s 50GW and 26GW wind and solar energy proposals in Western Australia, as well as Andrew Forrest’s massive plans, about which Green has commented on LinkedIn on several occasions, expressing concern about the water source.

When fully operational, the partnership between Aqua Aerem and Osaka Gas expects to create 410,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year. (By way of reference, Andrew Forrest, CEO of Fortescue, has set a target of 15 million tonnes per year by 2030.)

Osaka Gas said it would assist with engineering and technical assistance, customer identification, and interacting with equipment manufacturers, as part of the agreement signed in Darwin on Tuesday in the presence of chief minister Michael Gunner.

Desert Bloom, according to Aqua Aerem CEO Gerard Reiter, is Australia’s most advanced, shovel-ready green hydrogen project of its scale, aided by its unique technology for capturing water from the air.

“This agreement is a strong confirmation of the project’s enormous value and Aqua Aerem’s breakthrough air-to-water technology, which enables green hydrogen projects to be situated in areas with the best renewable energy sources, which is typically the world’s driest regions.”

Desert Bloom Hydrogen will be a large-scale, off-grid system that generates renewable hydrogen without the use of groundwater, river water, aquafer water, or sea water.

The project is comprised of a series of modular 2MW Hydrogen Production Units (HPUs) capable of extracting water from the atmosphere while also creating heat, renewable power, and green hydrogen.

According to the web site, the project will be built adjacent to the existing gas-fired Tennant Creek Power Station, and an agreement has been made with the Northern Territory’s power company to off-take hydrogen from the project’s earliest stages.

Desert Bloom Hydrogen, according to the company, will generate money upon installation of the first module and does not require significant upfront investment, such as big infrastructure that may become stranded or suffer from technological obsolescence.

“As a result of these significant cost savings, Desert Bloom will be able to manufacture green hydrogen at a price that international customers will pay – less than $US2/kg – within five years,” the company adds.

Aqua Aerem further reports that it is in conversations with more possible partners about the acquisition of its green hydrogen as well as joint venture options in the energy, chemical, mining, transportation, and aviation industries.

RenewEconomy has reached out to Aqua Aerem’s media team for additional information regarding Green’s involvement, the finance, and his LinkedIn statements. We have not received a response as of yet.

Nedim Husomanovic

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