How GCC investment in clean hydrogen can supercharge energy transition

How GCC investment in clean hydrogen can supercharge energy transition
Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to drive the chemical reaction, without emitting carbon byproducts. (AFP)
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Updated 04 November 2021

How GCC investment in clean hydrogen can supercharge energy transition

How GCC investment in clean hydrogen can supercharge energy transition
  • Hydrogen’s intrinsic characteristics make it a versatile energy carrier and a potential substitute for fossil fuels
  • Saudi Arabia’s NEOM is building one of the biggest green hydrogen production facilities in the world

DUBAI: As world leaders convene in Glasgow for the COP26 summit, the untapped potential of hydrogen among other alternative energy sources has occupied the attention of experts and delegates who have descended on the Scottish city to explore ways to mitigate climate change.

Hydrogen fuel has become a viable contender for energy transition as heat-trapping greenhouse-gas emissions continue to increase despite the goal set by the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

According to a joint report by consultancy Roland Berger and the international industry network Dii Desert Energy titled “The Potential for Green Hydrogen in the GCC Region,” hydrogen’s intrinsic characteristics make it a clean and versatile energy carrier, with the potential to become the new oil or natural gas.




Hydrogen’s intrinsic characteristics make it a clean and versatile energy carrier, with the potential to become the new oil or natural gas. (AFP)

Hydrogen gas can be used to store energy for long periods of time, in large tanks or in salt caverns. And, according to engineering firm Geostock, some GCC countries have the ideal geological conditions to allow for large-scale underground storage facilities inside rock formations, which could serve as a buffer for varying seasonal demand.

In any case, thanks to their vast empty spaces, strong regular sunshine and, in some places, powerful winds, the GCC states are well positioned to develop low-cost, large-scale renewable energy projects.

Last year, IHS Markit predicted that the price of “green hydrogen” in GCC countries would be competitive with “blue hydrogen” by 2025 and with “grey hydrogen” by 2030.

“This is a CO2-free energy source,” Heinz Sturm, a civil engineer and expert on hydrogen and fuel cells, told Arab News. “I see Saudi Arabia and the UAE as very important suppliers for worldwide green hydrogen supply, especially for countries in the EU.”

Hydrogen is derived through water electrolysis, which uses electricity to split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. Green hydrogen is produced using renewable energy sources such as solar and wind to drive the chemical reaction, without emitting carbon byproducts.

“The problem is it’s too expensive and it needs wind or solar, which is a huge problem for developing countries,” said Sturm, who regularly advises governments and the UN on hydrogen and the circular economy, climate change and clean energy.
 


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The role of hydrogen in tackling climate in MENA


However, “another way to do it is through the gasification of biomass waste. It’s 30 percent cheaper than water splitting, reduces waste, and is totally free of carbon.”

Sturm is also the founder of the Bonn Climate Project, which is being implemented by the Germany-based International Clean Energy Partnership and Climate Technology Center.

In 2017, he developed a technical report titled “Hydrogen Economy for Arab Countries,” commissioned by the Berlin-based Ghorfa Arab-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry to find ways to tackle climate change from a new angle.

“It’s important for Gulf countries because they are the existing suppliers of oil to the EU and we will still need such supply to continue in the future,” said Sturm.




Hydrogen fuel has become a viable contender for energy transition as heat-trapping greenhouse-gas emissions continue to increase. (AFP)

“So, they need to build this business and switch it to hydrogen instead of oil. For North African countries, they have other opportunities to produce green hydrogen by thermal chemical reaction of biomass waste, which will help their economy grow. It’s a social, political and economic project.”

Experts say the potential for green hydrogen in sectors ranging from chemicals and refineries to transport and residential is immense. According to the International Energy Agency, the abundance of renewables in the GCC countries makes the bloc potentially one of the most price competitive for hydrogen production.

Progress is already being made in Egypt, the UAE and Oman, while in Saudi Arabia a 2-GW green hydrogen production facility for ammonia is in the works for NEOM, the smart-city project taking shape on the Kingdom’s Red Sea coast.

Developed through a partnership between ACWA Power, Air Products and NEOM, the project is among the biggest green hydrogen initiatives in the world.

“Given the availability of competitive and low-cost renewable energy, NEOM will produce green hydrogen at scale and convert it to green ammonia for export,” according to the Dii Desert Energy report.

“NEOM’s prime location enables world record low renewable energy prices, and among the highest combined capacity factors by solar and wind energy beyond 70 percent.”




Thanks to their vast empty spaces, strong regular sunshine and, in some places, powerful winds, the GCC states are well positioned to develop low-cost, large-scale renewable energy projects. (AFP)

NEOM has developed a comprehensive localization approach and strategy, which the report says could turn it into the first hydrogen valley in the MENA region — an area where several applications are combined into an integrated hydrogen ecosystem.

“It could serve as an incubator for NEOM and other green hydrogen projects nationally and potentially internationally,” the Dii Desert Energy report said.

The potential economic benefits are huge, including new employment opportunities across a wide spectrum of positions and skills.

“For the GCC, hydrogen has the potential to become a $200 billion industry and it could create 900,000 direct and indirect jobs by 2050, which is significant,” Frank Wouters, green energy developer and chairman of the MENA Hydrogen Alliance, an initiative led by Dii Desert Energy, told Arab News.

The joint Dii Desert Energy and Roland Berger report predicts between 200,000 and 450,000 jobs could be created in the region by 2050 in renewables related to hydrogen production. However, such jobs will require new skills that do not exist in the current workforce. As a result, it recommends that the GCC develop an ecosystem of capability building, including educational and training programs.

It also advises GCC countries to develop hydrogen valley projects, while setting up research and development partnerships with international technology providers to accelerate the development of hydrogen ecosystems, particularly for advanced technologies.




“This is a CO2-free energy source,” Heinz Sturm, a civil engineer and expert on hydrogen and fuel cells. (Supplied)

To unlock the full potential of the hydrogen economy, the report added that GCC countries will need to set a clear direction for all key actors with integrated hydrogen strategies. This could ultimately result in the generation of up to $200 billion in revenues annually.

To this end, Sturm wants to see tech-sharing deals reached between the Gulf countries and Germany.

“We need hydrogen as a universal energy for all sectors, as no other energy source can do that,” he said. “Gulf countries are already further ahead than most other nations thanks to their decisive commitment to climate protection.”

Looking to the not-too-distant future, Sturm said: “If they work in parallel with Germany and the EU for the introduction of a hydrogen economy, we can save our climate and, with it, our world.”

Twitter: @CalineMalek


Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues
Updated 7 sec ago

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues

Iran gives European nuclear deal parties drafts on sanctions removal, nuclear issues
  • A European diplomat confirmed draft documents had been handed over
VIENNA: Iran has provided European powers involved in its 2015 nuclear deal two drafts on sanctions removal and nuclear commitments, Iranian state media reported on Thursday.
“Iran’s chief negotiator, Ali Bagheri, announced at the Vienna talks that ...Iran has delivered its proposed text on two issues of lifting oppressive sanctions and nuclear issues,” the official IRNA news agency reported. It did not give further details.
A European diplomat confirmed draft documents had been handed over.

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions
Updated 31 min 48 sec ago

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions

Israeli PM slammed for family trip amid travel restrictions
  • Israelis are still allowed to fly to other countries and must quarantine when they return
  • Bennett was attacked by political rivals and everyday Israelis itching to return to normalcy

TEL AVIV, Israel: Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett came under fire Thursday after his wife and children flew abroad just days after the Israeli leader urged citizens to avoid international travel because of the new coronavirus variant.
Gilat Bennett and her children took off Wednesday on a personal visit, triggering a storm of criticism against the prime minister for not following his own guidelines.
Their trip comes after Israel tightened travel restrictions in light of the omicron variant. Israel closed its border to foreign visitors and barred travel to much of Africa but Israelis are still allowed to fly to other countries and must quarantine when they return.
The episode drew comparisons to incidents at the beginning of the pandemic, when former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and former Israeli President Reuven Rivlin spent the Passover holiday with members of their family who lived outside their residence, even as they urged Israelis to celebrate away from their relatives. That sparked an outcry and raised questions about the public’s trust in leaders at a time of a major crisis.
Bennett was attacked by political rivals and everyday Israelis itching to return to normalcy.
“It’s a testament to his behavior, to his responsibility to the public, to the lack of personal example. He thinks he can do what he wants,” opposition lawmaker Israel Katz told Israeli Army Radio.
Israelis took to social media to berate the prime minister on his social media pages, questioning his leadership.
“Send regards to the family abroad while we are all languishing here with the restrictions,” a user named Anna Gechtman wrote.
In a Facebook post Wednesday answering questions about the new variant, Bennett was asked about his family’s trip and said they were not violating the new travel rules. He said they were expected to fly to a country that subsequently was banned to travel for Israelis and then changed their destination. He also said more had been revealed about where the virus has spread since his decision to limit travel.
“I understand the criticism,” Bennett wrote. “Everyone is leaving while following the restrictions and will of course quarantine as is required.”
Bennett on Friday announced the tightened measures in a press conference on Friday. He counselled Israelis not to bother booking holidays because he expected more countries to be added to the no-travel list.
“If you ask me, I don’t recommend flying abroad right now with such a level of uncertainty,” he said.


Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada
Updated 02 December 2021

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada

Arab coalition carries out air strikes on military targets in Sanaa, Saada
  • Operation in Sanaa targeted one of the main stores of weapons and other supplies
  • The coalition also destroyed workshops that store ballistic missiles and drones in Saada

DUBAI: The Arab coalition on Thursday carried out air strikes on military targets in Yemen’s Sanaa and Saada, Al-Arabiya TV reported.
It further called on civilians not to approach the targeted sites.
The coalition said the operation in Sanaa targeted one of the main stores of weapons and other supplies. “In east of Sanaa, we destroyed two sites under construction as warehouses for military use,” it said.
The coalition also destroyed workshops that store ballistic missiles and drones in Saada.
Earlier on Wednesday, the coalition said they intercepted and destroyed a drone over Amran province after it was launched from Sanaa International Airport.
The Iran-backed Houthis have repeatedly target Saudi Arabia with explosive-rigged drones, mostly without causing much damage because of the Kingdom’s air defenses.
The coalition has carried out multiple sorties against targets in Sanaa, particularly hitting the airport after surveillance pictures and videos showed it has been converted into a military base for experts of the Revolutionary Guards and Hezbollah.


Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation
Updated 02 December 2021

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation

Unvaccinated expats in Jordan face strict measures, including deportation
  • Foreign workers are allowed to receive the vaccine for free

DUBAI: Foreign workers who have not been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by December 15 face strict measures from the government, including deportation.

“The decision aims to protect public health, noting that prompting foreign workers to get vaccinated protects them against future infections and disease transmission,” a report from state news agency Petra said, quoting a statement from Jordan’s interior ministry.

Foreign workers are allowed to receive the vaccine for free, without the need to present their residency or work permits.

A total 4,142,489 individuals have received their first COVID-19 jab, while 3,754,055 are now fully vaccinated, a health ministry briefer noted.

Health officials on Wednesday reported 5,047 new coronavirus infections, putting Jordan’s caseload to 958,990, with 56,991 active cases currently receiving treatment.

Jordanian authorities earlier declared that the country had entered a third wave of the coronavirus ‘with the increase in the number of delta variant infections and hospital admission rates.’ The second wave occurred during the first quarter of this year.

Authorities have banned travelers South Africa and six other African countries from entering the, with the emergence of the omicron COVID-19 strain from these nations. It was first detected in South Africa.


UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question
Updated 02 December 2021

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question

UN warned its credibility is at stake over the Palestinian question
  • General Assembly President Abdulla Shahid reiterated that a two-state solution is the only way forward and said ‘we cannot give up hope’
  • His comments came days after the 74 th anniversary of Resolution 181, which called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states

NEW YORK: There is more at stake in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than peace and security in the Middle East, according to Abdulla Shahid, the president of the UN General Assembly.

The reputation of the global community and its ability to work together to resolve international disputes, in keeping with the founding vision of the UN, is also on the line, he warned.

“That is why we cannot give up hope,” said Shahid as he called on member states to make every effort to join forces to resolve the conflict in line with international human rights and humanitarian laws, and the UN charter.

“We must maintain the credibility of this great institution and push for positive dialogue and engagement between the parties involved.”

Speaking on Wednesday during a plenary meeting of the General Assembly to discuss the Palestinian question and the situation in the wider Middle East, Shahid described as “disheartening” the lack of progress on an issue that has been on the UN agenda since the organization’s earliest years.

The situations in Palestine and the wider region are “deeply intertwined,” he said.

“We have seen time and time again how the spillover effects of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute undermine the stability of the broader region,” he added.

“As long as the Palestinian people are deprived of statehood, as long as illegal settlements continue to be built on land that Palestinians are justly entitled to, as long as Palestinian families are forced to flee the violence and injustices against them and they cannot return home, anger and bitterness will fester.

“This will contribute to a cycle of violence that has gone on for far, far too long.”

The plenary session came days after the 74th anniversary of resolution 181, which was passed by the General Assembly on Nov. 29, 1947. It called for the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish states, with the city of Jerusalem a separate entity to be governed by an international regime.

Facilitating a two-state solution based on pre-1967 borders is the “most important thing” the world can do to help resolve the conflict, said Shahid, who called for an acceleration of the multilateral political process to find a just and peaceful settlement.

Turning to key issues affecting Palestinians, he said it is time for the international community to back its words with actions in terms of humanitarian assistance, support for efforts to resolve the conflict, and upholding the dignity of Palestinians.

“Year after year we speak of the appalling humanitarian crisis in Palestine, especially the Gaza strip,” Shahid said. “But words are insufficient. Words cannot substitute for the lack of running water, electricity, proper sanitation, and decent living conditions that millions of Palestinians endure.

“Words can express how COVID-19 has exacerbated these challenges but they cannot resolve them. Words cannot save Palestinian people suffering from decades of occupation, arbitrary arrests and the use of excessive force against them. Words cannot restore their demolished homes or halt the proliferation of illegal settlements on their land.”

More than half of the five million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories are dependent on humanitarian assistance to survive. That number rises to 80 percent in Gaza, where residents “cry out for access to even basic amenities and services,”  Shahid said.

The many Palestinian refugees across the Middle East are also in jeopardy, he added, highlighting the large shortfall in funding for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. He called on the international community to ensure it provides enough financial support to maintain the life-saving work of the agency.

“Let us all come together as an international community and reiterate our commitment to protect the rights of the Palestinian people,” said Shahid.

“Let us grant them what they have been justly demanding for so long: dignity, statehood and respect.”