Renewable energy company Masdar has reached an agreement with Abu Dhabi’s Department of Energy and a group of five institutions to develop clean hydrogen fuel solutions for the UAE capital’s infrastructure.
Madsar, which is currently working with four other energy companies to develop the 2GW solar farm in the city’s Al Dhafra district, will build a demonstrator plant in Abu Dhabi to research the development of green hydrogen, sustainable fuels and e-kerosene production for the capital’s transport, shipping, and aviation industries. It is hoped this will be extended to international markets in future.
Executives from Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, airlines Etihad Airways and Lufthansa Group, the Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Germany’s Siemens Energy, and Japan’s Marubeni Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding on 17 January ahead of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week to formalise the deal. Masdar will work alongside Siemens and Marubeni to develop the infrastructure for the project.
Green hydrogen is still a nascent technology in the wider energy sector, held back largely by the relative cost of production compared with blue or grey hydrogen, but is thought to be an important source of clean energy for industries that depend on long-haul transportation.
The first phase of the programme will focus on producing green hydrogen for passenger cars and buses in the Masdar City area, and constructing a kerosene synthesis plant to convert green hydrogen into sustainable aviation fuel. In the second phase of the programme, the energy companies will explore fuel production for the shipping industry.
Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Masdar’s chief executive, said that green hydrogen could be a “game-changer for decarbonisation strategies, adding that the UAE’s solar capacity offers developers an opportunity to become prominent players in the global green hydrogen economy.
“Masdar has been exploring hydrogen production and generation for more than a decade – today we believe the time is right to accelerate investment in this technology,” he said. “The UAE’s abundant solar resources, combined with our infrastructure, resources and knowledge base in the energy industry will help us to become a key player in the global hydrogen economy.”
The deal could see the UAE start to compete with countries such as Australia on green hydrogen fuel exports as the technology develops.
Some authorities have made green hydrogen a key component of their carbon reduction targets. The European Union’s green hydrogen strategy, published in July, called for at least 6GW of renewable hydrogen electrolysers to be installed by 2024. Australia’s energy minister Angus Taylor said last year the country has a “natural competitive advantage” in the global hydrogen economy, with exports from the sector expected to contribute an estimated AU$11 billion (US$8.49 billion) per year in additional GDP by 2050. Australia and Germany joined forces last year to fund a feasibility study looking specifically at exporting green hydrogen from the former to the latter.
H.E. Thomas Bareiss, the German Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy and a witness to the Abu Dhabi green hydrogen deal, said it underscored the value of a “German-Emirati energy partnership”, due to the inclusion of Siemens and Lufthansa.