When one of the world’s most well-known – and richest – men, billionaire Bill Gates, joins the hunt for natural hydrogen, you know the cat is well and truly out of the bag for the fledging energy phenomenon.

The Denver Gazette reported last week that local startup Koloma had quietly raised US$91 million from Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Energy Impact Partners, Evōk Innovations, Prelude Ventures and Piva Capital to enter the natural hydrogen search. It said this made Koloma the most well-funded startup in the space.

“Co-founder Tom Darrah is listed on 16 filed patents for finding and efficiently extracting hydrogen. He hopes to find the resource in areas where companies have traditionally drilled for oil and gas,” the media outlet said.

The Gazette said natural hydrogen was a key part of what was potentially a US$1 trillion hydrogen market. It is sought after because of its low relative cost in comparison to man-made hydrogen. Hydrogen has near zero carbon emissions and is being looked at as one of the key components of getting to carbon neutrality.

The continuing growth in interest about natural hydrogen is, of course, music to the ears of the team at Gold Hydrogen.

We too are targeting former oil and gas sites, and our first drilling program, due to start in October, is at one such site. The Ramsay Project targets a bore in South Australia that had hydrogen gas at 90% purity during oil testing more than a century ago.

The American story highlighted how new the natural hydrogen possibilities were.

“The idea of geologic hydrogen emerging as a fuel-of-choice is very exciting,” said Joel Johnston, who specialises in environmental and regulatory issues and large infrastructure projects at law firm Hall Estill in its Denver office. “We have seen projects emerge over the past few years focused on green hydrogen produced by re-purposed wind farms, but the idea that a virtually limitless supply of hydrogen could be economically available is game changing.”

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