UAE to lead global hydrogen market

Hydrogen is emerging as an important fuel in the energy transition

The UAE has the foundations and competitive advantages to become one of the largest and lowest cost producers of low-carbon hydrogen in the world, said a recently published report.

The report entitled ‘The United Arab Emirates’ Role in the Global Hydrogen Economy’, authored by Dr Julio Friedmann, a Senior Research Scholar at the Centre on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University SIPA, and Robin Mills, CEO of Qamar Energy and a non-resident fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington DC, details the importance of hydrogen as a potential fuel of the future and the UAE’s strong start in leveraging existing assets to position itself at the forefront of the market.

Hydrogen is expected to play a critical role as an enabler of international decarbonisation and sustainable development strategies, and the global transition to lower carbon energy sources. It is predicted to account for as much as 18 per cent of global energy demand by 2050, with over 30 countries having released hydrogen roadmaps and more than 228 large-scale projects underway across the hydrogen value chain, according to the Hydrogen Council. Tapping into this emerging demand represents a significant opportunity for global energy players.

Al Jaber: optimist about blue hydrogen

Al Jaber: optimist about blue hydrogen

In the UAE, Adnoc with its many announcements related to hydrogen and its carrier fuels, demonstrate that progress is already being made. Recently the company announced the sale of three blue ammonia cargoes to customers in Japan as well as plans to develop a new one million tonne per annum (mtpa) blue ammonia plant at TA’ZIZ in Ruwais.

The UAE is pursuing a balanced strategy covering both blue and green hydrogen, with blue hydrogen being easier to scale-up and is therefore crucial to supporting the growth of the emerging global market. Blue hydrogen refers to hydrogen produced from natural gas with the associated carbon captured and stored underground; while green hydrogen refers to hydrogen made from the electrolysis of water with renewable electricity and minimal CO2 emissions.

Blue hydrogen is currently lower in cost and is considered an important step in the development of the low-carbon hydrogen economy; however, the cost of producing green hydrogen is expected to fall over time. According to the report, the UAE has natural advantages, in addition to its existing infrastructure and production capabilities for both types of hydrogen.

Adnoc is already a producer of over 300,000 tpa of hydrogen in its downstream facilities, which is predominantly used for industrial purposes. The company has plans to increase its hydrogen production to 500,000 tpa.

The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar) has launched numerous green hydrogen initiatives including the development of a green hydrogen demonstrator plant in Masdar City in partnership with Siemens Energy, Marubeni, Etihad Airways, Lufthansa Group, Khalifa University of Science and Technology (KU) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE).

The formation of the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance between Adnoc, Mubadala, ADQ and the UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure was an important step in what has become a coordinated effort to build the nation’s hydrogen economy.

Earlier this year, in a high-level Ministerial Session at a virtual Hydrogen Roundtable, Dr Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Adnoc MD and Group CEO, expressed optimism that alongside Adnoc’s existing infrastructure and commercial-scale carbon capture, utilisation, and storage (CCUS) capabilities, it can become a major player in developing the blue hydrogen market.