RIYADH: The EU’s Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson have held discussions with government officials from Saudi Arabia to further develop cooperation on the production of clean hydrogen.
Timmermans and Simson also met Saudi Minister of Energy Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman during their visit to Riyadh on March 5-6.
Timmermans told Arab News: “For the European Union, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a strategic partner, and one of the areas where this strategy needs to be made concrete is in energy and specifically in the energy transition, and in all of this green hydrogen will play a crucial role.
“Europe needs a lot of clean hydrogen in the future. The Kingdom has a lot of ambitions in developing clean hydrogen [and] that means there is a lot of scope for intensive cooperation.
“There is a strong realization on both sides that the climate crisis is an existential crisis to humanity that doesn’t need explanation, and that is something that is well understood.”
He said that a plan was in place for the two parties to meet regularly to gauge the progress being made.
He added: “We are absolutely pragmatic in our approach. We cannot say there is only one solution or one silver bullet to address the climate crisis; we need to use every technology, every approach, and every way forward that humanity can invent, and some of this is being invented here [in Saudi Arabia], some of it is being invented in Europe… and in cooperating more closely we can benefit from each other’s progress.
“If I look at the EU and Saudi Arabia, the youngest generation across the board are very much convinced that we need to act on this, and we are fortunate to see also the leadership in Saudi Arabia being very conscious of this, and committed, so it gives us a good opportunity to work together.”
Simson told Arab News that the visit was 18 months in the making and was initially to be held following the Kingdom’s hosting of the G20 but was postponed due to the pandemic.
She said: “The aim of our visit was to offer our trusted long-term partners cooperation beyond the fossil fuels.
“Last year we had to diversify away from one supplier from Russia, and by doing so we have not given up our commitment to decarbonize our energy market.
“That means that very soon we need to find alternative suppliers for renewables, mainly renewable hydrogen.
“Our companies have shown interest to start importing green hydrogen from the region, first in the form of ammonia.
“For example, the NEOM project is already sold out, so that shows from the European side there is a clear and strong interest.”
The two officials attended a workshop at the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center during their visit. It highlighted initiatives aimed at reaching net zero by 2060.