RIYADH: Given its resources, infrastructure and land, Saudi Arabia is placed at a very competitive position in the green hydrogen industry, especially in terms of cost and volume capacity of the product, according to Rami Shabaneh, a King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center researcher.
Global prices of hydrogen range between $2 and $7 per kg. The Kingdom falls at the lower end of the cost curve due to low natural gas and renewable electricity prices locally.
“In Saudi Arabia, it is much lower because of the low-cost resources and high capacity factors the electrolyzers can achieve. A recent study by KAPSARC shows that reaching $1 per kg is plausible in the long term,” Shabaneh told Arab News.
“Other countries can achieve a similar levelized cost of hydrogen production, but only a few can produce the volumes required to meet the decarbonization targets,” he added.
The cost of green hydrogen is highly sensitive to renewable electricity costs and electrolyzer load factors.
“The renewable energy prices in the Kingdom are some of the lowest in the world. An auction price accepted at $10.4 per MWh is a world record low right now,” he said.
KAPSARC analyzes the resource, export and cost reduction potential of Saudi Arabia’s hydrogen production.
According to Shabaneh, despite significant decreases in hydrogen costs, the world still needs supporting mechanisms for hydrogen to substitute for traditional fuels in some sectors.
He further pointed out that having fossil fuels in the Kingdom’s energy system does not necessarily mean more emissions.
“You can still use fossil fuels to make blue hydrogen with high capture rates of GHG emissions,” he said.
Saudi Arabia is building a $5 billion green hydrogen project in NEOM, powered by renewable energy, to supply 650 tons of carbon-free hydrogen daily. The plant will see its first production in 2026.
The project will export hydrogen in the form of liquid ammonia to the world market for use as a biofuel that feeds transportation systems.
The plant will need around 4.3 gigawatts of clean energy to power it, as ACWA Power, one of three project owners, plans to use solar during the day and wind at night to eliminate the need for batteries and expensive storage solutions.