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[Herald Interview] SK-backed US startup out to empower Asia’s carbon goal

8 Rivers CEO talks about SK’s role as bridge to Asia-Pacific outreach

8 Rivers CEO Cam Hosie speaks at a signing ceremony with SK Inc. on March 7. (8 Rivers)
8 Rivers CEO Cam Hosie speaks at a signing ceremony with SK Inc. on March 7. (8 Rivers)
The Asia-Pacific region is responsible for more than half of carbon dioxide emissions worldwide. While net-zero carbon emissions mandates in the region pose promising economic opportunities, green technology players’ expansion to the Asia-Pacific from outside the region may seem like a murky prospect.

“There is a choice between trying to build it ourselves, or finding a compatible vision and strategic capability to make engagements with the market more successful,” Cam Hosie, chief executive officer of US-based carbon capture and hydrogen firm 8 Rivers, told The Korea Herald in a recent interview.

“Obviously, every economy is different and their market, social, and political forces are different,” Hosie said. “When it comes to implementation, you were always enabled by finding partners that understand the local conditions.”

Deploying solutions to capture and store carbon emissions in natural gas power plants in the United States and the United Kingdom, 8 Rivers is now turning to unfamiliar regions.

To up the ante, the North Carolina-based startup in March announced $100 million in funding from SK Inc., a holding company of South Korea’s third-largest conglomerate which merged with advanced materials arm SK Materials in 2021.

Aside from what is considered one of the largest single private investments in a carbon capture solutions provider, 8 Rivers is looking to establish a joint venture with SK Group to implement its deployment in the Asian market including Korea.

The joint venture would help the startup deploy a suite of green technologies in Asia, ranging from clean hydrogen to carbon-free power generation systems and direct air capture.

Taking the Asia-Pacific region into account is what must be done to tackle the worldwide problem. According to data by London-based oil and gas company BP, the Asia-Pacific region -- home to the world’s top emitters including China and India -- emitted some 52 percent of greenhouse gas in the world in 2020.

“There is no global energy transition without Asia being the key player,” said Hosie, a former US attorney who joined 8 Rivers in 2012. Hosie added that without tackling emissions in Asia, “all that happens is shifting the timing of when we breach the threshold.”

8 Rivers -- a de facto group of green technology companies under 8 Rivers Capital -- has been broadening its scope of technologies.

Hosie said 8 Rivers’ recent focus was on the so-called “8RH2” process to make hydrogen from natural gas and capture any carbon dioxide generated in the process, in addition to its signature Allam-Fetvedt Cycle technology to capture and recycle carbon dioxide in the process of burning natural gas.

The firm’s new Asian projects and joint venture roadmaps have yet to materialize, but Hosie stressed that their projects would require a tremendous amount of investment. US investment bank Morgan Stanley projected in 2019 that investment would amount to $50 trillion by 2050 to remove 25 billion metric tons of carbon.

“I anticipate we will continue to partner with third-party financial institutions (for Asia projects),” Hosie said.

“The scale of capital required to deliver the energy transition is so vast that bringing in large institutional investors is going to be the way to facilitate that being done,” he said.

(consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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