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New Report Stresses Importance of Increasing Use of Hydrogen in Vital Sectors

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Launched by Dubai Future Foundation in conjunction with federal, local government entities, study highlights benefits of hydrogen economy for UAE

A new report, titled Hydrogen: From Hype to Reality, has called on the UAE to develop integrated strategies to produce, store and use hydrogen energy. As the world strives to achieve net-zero emissions, hydrogen will be crucial to decarbonize hard-to-abate industries, such as steel, cement, aviation and shipping, says the publication.

Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) has launched the report in partnership with Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA).

The report provides an overview of local, regional and global trends in energy production and consumption, advanced hydrogen production technologies, as well as the many advantages of hydrogen that could change the traditional perspective on energy consumption.

Noting the rising demand for hydrogen around the world, the publication highlights the opportunities hydrogen offers as a sustainable source of energy that can help preserve the environment and reduce the risks of climate change.

Speaking on the launch of the report, His Excellency Suhail bin Mohammed Al Mazrouei said: “The UAE is one of the leaders in the fields of renewable and clean energy and a forerunner in adopting innovative methods to enhance the efficiency of the energy sector. To achieve these priorities, the country launched the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 that targets an increase in the share of renewable and clean energy sources in the energy mix to strike a balance between its economic needs and environmental goals.”

He added: “Hydrogen energy is one of the solutions that support sustainable development. It can be produced from available traditional sources, such as oil and gas, or from renewable sources, including solar energy and wind, in addition to geothermal energy and organic sources. Hydrogen production from fossil fuels is currently the most cost-competitive in our region at US$1.5 per kilogram.”

 “In a record time, the UAE has made great strides in clean energy owing to its progressive legislation that keeps pace with the latest developments, addresses the most pressing challenges and sets ambitious goals for the future. “ His Excellency noted.

For her part, Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri said: “The deployment of clean energy solutions is a key pillar of global climate action, as it significantly contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and expedites the way to a net-zero future. The impressive technological advances have helped us find new sources of clean energy, with hydrogen at the forefront.”

She added: “Through launching green hydrogen production and use programs and projects, the UAE is leading the international race to leverage clean hydrogen as the fuel of the future.”

His Excellency Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer commended the collaboration with DFF in issuing the report, noting that green hydrogen represents one of the pillars of a sustainable future that depends on accelerating the transition to carbon neutrality to support a green economy.

He said: “Today, the world is witnessing an increasing interest in investing in clean and renewable energy sources that will change the global energy landscape in the coming years, especially for countries looking to quickly recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic by gradually shifting from fossil fuels to environmentally friendly and relatively low-cost energy sources, including hydrogen, dubbed by many as the fuel of the future. Producing green hydrogen is part of DEWA’s efforts to support the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 that aims to provide 75 percent of Dubai’s total power capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. The Green Hydrogen project, which has been implemented in collaboration between DEWA, Expo 2020 Dubai and Siemens Energy at DEWA’s R&D Centre in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, is the first facility in the Middle East and North Africa to produce hydrogen using solar power. The plant was designed to facilitate future applications and test platforms of different uses for hydrogen. This project will contribute to paving the way for building an economy based on clean energy.”

His Excellency Khalfan Belhoul stressed the importance of leveraging the latest global trends in the energy sector, and developing innovative production practices from alternative and sustainable sources that will strengthen the UAE’s clean energy credentials and advance its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

He pointed out that the launch of the report demonstrates DFF’s keenness to cooperate with all government and private sector entities to shape the future of the UAE’s energy sector, in addition to identifying relevant challenges and opportunities, and supporting the country’s progress in the fields of technology, innovation and economic diversification.

The report states that the UAE could become not only a leading hydrogen economy in the region but also a major exporter of hydrogen. Policymakers in Dubai are strongly recommended to pursue the ‘Producer & Hub’ export sector development strategy, which is possible under either high or medium domestic and international hydrogen demand. The strategy could add up to AED32 billion annually to Dubai’s GDP, create over 120,000 jobs and offset CO2 emissions equivalent to 84 days per year of the UAE’s crude oil production by 2050.

The document explores the UAE’s efforts to diversify energy sources over the next 50 years while making a complete shift to renewable and sustainable energy. Due to its reliability and stability, hydrogen is considered more suitable for production and storage in the country than solar and wind energy that are reliant on natural conditions.

The publication highlights proofs of concept showcasing future use cases, including green hydrogen-based synthetic fuels that can be produced cleanly and would significantly reduce the environmental impact of road, air and sea transport.

The report includes an assessment and feasibility study of a jointly funded hydrogen pipeline connecting Europe and East Asia to countries of the GCC region that have the potential to produce green, blue and yellow hydrogen at scale and export it to countries lacking the necessary resources.

The document sheds light on the alignment of key government entities across the UAE in managing the production and supply of blue and green hydrogen. Coordinated competition will ensure efficient allocation of resources at a national level. 

According to WHA International, today, hydrogen is primarily used for ammonia and methanol production through chemical synthesis, and in oil refineries to reduce the sulfur content of fuel. About 55 percent of the hydrogen produced around the world is used for ammonia synthesis, 25 percent in refineries and approximately 10 percent for methanol production. Other applications account for the remaining 10 percent of global hydrogen production.

Hydrogen has one of its largest uses in oil refining – the process of converting crude into various end products, such as transport fuels and petrochemical feedstocks. Its application is set to grow as regulations on sulfur content in oil become more stringent.

The report reviews multiple methods that can be used to produce hydrogen, each with a color code denoting the production process. Today, most of the hydrogen is produced through steam reforming of fossil fuels, such as natural gas or coal, and is often described as grey hydrogen. This process can be coupled with carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), where the CO2 generated is captured and used or stored underground. The hydrogen produced by this method is referred to as blue hydrogen. When hydrogen is produced through electrolysis using electricity generated by renewable energy, such as wind or solar power, or from biogas obtained from biomass, it is called green hydrogen. Meanwhile, yellow hydrogen is extracted from water using electrolysis, similar to green hydrogen. The only difference is that the electricity source used is nuclear energy instead of renewables.