Dubai: The UAE will greatly benefit from developing integrated strategies to produce, store and use hydrogen energy, according to a recent report titled ‘Hydrogen: From Hype to Reality’, released by Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).
The report – launched by DFF in partnership with UAE Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure, Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) – provides an overview of local, regional and global trends in energy production and consumption as well as advanced hydrogen production technologies and the advantages of hydrogen in energy consumption.
Hydrogen is a clean fuel that can be produced from a variety of domestic resources, including natural gas, nuclear power, biomass, and renewable power such as solar and wind. Hydrogen fuel cells produce electricity by combining hydrogen and oxygen atoms. When consumed in a fuel cell, hydrogen produces only water.
The DFF report noted: “As the world strives to achieve net-zero emissions, hydrogen will be crucial to decarbonise hard-to-abate industries, such as steel, cement, aviation and shipping, Hydrogen offers as a sustainable source of energy that can help preserve the environment and reduce the risks of climate change”.
Expanding renewable sources
Minister of Energy and Infrastructure 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 $1.5 (around Dh5.51) per kilogram.”
Key pillar of climate action
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, added: “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.”
Fuel of the future
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, DEWA Managing Director and CEO, called hyrdrogen as the fuel of the future. 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 perc ent 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.
DFF CEO Khalfan Belhoul underlined developing innovative production practices from alternative and sustainable sources will strengthen the UAE’s clean energy credentials and advance its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
He noted the report states that the UAE could become not only a leading hydrogen economy in the region but also a major exporter of hydrogen.
The report states: “Policymakers in Dubai are strongly recommended to pursue the ‘Producer and Hub’ export sector development strategy, which is possible under either high or medium domestic and international hydrogen demand. The strategy could add up to Dh32 billion annually to Dubai’s gross domestic product, while creating over 120,000 jobs and offsetting carbon emissions equivalent to 84 days per year of the UAE’s crude oil production by 2050.”
The report also reviews multiple methods that can be used to produce hydrogen, each with a colour 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, utilisation 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.
The full report is available on DFF website.