An image of the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. Both renewables along with traditional sources such as oil and gas will be needed to meet with rising demand Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Abu Dhabi: No one source of energy will be enough to meet with the global energy transition, as both renewables along with traditional sources such as oil and gas will be needed to meet with rising demand, according to Dr Matar Al Neyadi, undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy, who laid out the UAE’s energy strategy in Abu Dhabi on Monday.

Al Neyadi was speaking at the International Association for Energy Economics Middle East Symposium at Khalifa University, as the event brought together over 100 experts from around the world to discuss the region’s energy outlook in light of new economic diversification policies as well as climate change.

“We believe there is no single solution; one recipe that could fit to all countries regardless of their circumstances … As the population of the world continues to grow so will the demand for energy, that is a fact,” said Al Neyadi.

“It is also a fact that we cannot meet this growing demand by using only one or two energy sources, we need all sources of energy to fuel the global economy and to help provide a decent and comfortable lifestyle for all,” he added.

“Our future outlook continues to maintain the balance between the old and the new,” he said.

Al Neyadi said that one new source of energy that was closely being looked at was hydrogen.

“Hydrogen is a new comer, it’s looking promising and will now be considered … [for] the energy mix. There is an international effort to adopt hydrogen, but it’s currently being categorised into grey, blue and green.”

Al Neyadi added that he would be in favour of not categorising sources of hydrogen. Currently, grey hydrogen refers to hydrogen from natural gas, blue hydrogen comes from other non-renewable sources but meets the low carbon threshold, and finally green hydrogen which is produced by renewable energy sources and also meets the low-carbon threshold.

“The UAE is rich in hydrocarbon and that means we can produce hydrogen from gas, which at the moment is the cheapest type of hydrogen,” he said.

“If we’re going to add a colour [category] to the source of hydrogen in order to favour one over the other — grey, blue or green — that means we are adding obstacles to the effect and focus of providing affordable energy and ultimately preventing economic prosperity,” he said.

Economic impact

Alan Nelson, chief technology officer at Adnoc, commenting on implementing new sources of energy and technologies, said it was important to study the economic impact before going ahead with such programmes to ensure both their economic viability and sustainability.

“This switch to alternative energy sources, whether that’s renewables, hydrogen or any other technologies that we look at, those are economic problems and we can’t lose sight of that.

“We need to consider very carefully the economics of any solution or any challenge that we identify for a potential solution,” he added.

“When I look at a new product and process technology I’m always looking at it through the lens of sustainability … So by the time we are ready to launch a particular product or process we have done the sustainability assessment all the way through that development … We don’t arrive at a point where we have a product or process that takes us in the wrong direction,” Nelson said.