Wednesday, February 28, 2024

OAPEC expert: Cost of producing hydrogen is 7 times higher than gas… and Arab countries have 4 advantages.


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  • The cost of manufacturing electrolyzers is very high: $840-1000 per kilowatt of installed capacity.
  • Hydrogen transport and storage processes are not yet developed and are very expensive
  • Hydrogen production currently stands at 95 million tonnes, although the market is huge and growing
  • Fossil fuels currently account for approximately 99% of hydrogen production.
  • The Arabian region is characterized by large natural gas resources that can be used for hydrogen.

OAPEC’s gas and hydrogen expert, engineer Wael Hamed Abdel Moati, reviewed the latest statistics regarding the cost of hydrogen production and the most important challenges facing investment in the sector at the current stage, apart from the components of the Arab countries. The attractiveness of investing in this type of fuel.

This came in a research paper titled “Hydrogen Developments in Arab Countries…Realities and Prospects” as part of the proceedings of the second day of the twelfth Arab Energy Conference, obtained by the Special Energy Platform. , December 11-12 in the State of Qatar. In December 2023, a session dedicated to the next petroleum industries was held, chaired by Engineer Sherif Hasballah, Undersecretary of the Egyptian Ministry of Petroleum for Production.

The Secretariat of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries, OAPEC, concluded the Arab Energy Conference with several decisive messages, including its introduction, “The oil and gas industry is part of the energy transition dilemma, which cannot be excluded,” emphasizing the importance of justice, without the protection of the West, in each country. Selects appropriate solutions to reduce emissions.

OAPEC spent several sessions discussing the issue of energy transition, particularly the global trend towards producing different forms of hydrogen, especially green (produced from renewable energy).

In his research paper, engineer Wael Hamed states that the classification of hydrogen based on colors is no longer internationally accepted because it does not take into account the carbon dioxide emissions that occur in the value chain of its production process, so the new classification is based on carbon intensity, hydrogen as a result of its production process with emissions of less than 2.4 kg per kilogram of hydrogen. If there is, it is considered low carbon.

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In practice, hydrogen production from coal (black hydrogen) releases 19 kg of carbon dioxide for every kg of hydrogen, and from gas (gray hydrogen) about 10 kg of carbon dioxide. As for the electrolysis of water using electricity generated from renewable (green hydrogen) energy sources, this process is not accompanied by any carbon dioxide emissions.

Therefore, the emissions produced during hydrogen production must be less than 2.4 kg, so the hydrogen must receive certified certificates that are low carbon and suitable for export, says engineer Wael Hamed.

Current market for hydrogen

The OAPEC expert says in his research paper, which he presented during a conference attended by the Energy Forum, “The current market for hydrogen is huge and growing, and its current production reaches 95 million tons, but it is still limited to being used as a raw material for other industries such as methanol and ammonia as an energy source. No.”

Engineer Wael Hamed was surprised when he confirmed that the current share of fossil fuels in hydrogen production is about 99%, which causes the emission of about 900 million tons of carbon dioxide, while low-carbon hydrogen – such as green hydrogen and blue hydrogen. , which relies on the use of carbon capture and storage technology – only a small percentage, about 0.7% of global production.

Based on demand expectations, the OAPEC expert explained that it could reach 660 million tons annually by 2050, in ideal scenarios, 7 times more than the current demand, which would stimulate investment in hydrogen production and export projects.

Part of a review of a research paper presented by an OAPEC expert

Ingredients for Arab Countries to Invest in Hydrogen

The Arab region has the following 4 elements to build a competitive hydrogen economy and an influential role in international trade with a future:

  1. Large natural gas resources and massive infrastructure – such as pipelines – can take advantage of hydrogen.
  2. The availability of renewable energy sources and ambitious national plans and targets for investing in them, and high characteristics such as high wind speeds reaching 9-11 meters per second and hours of sunlight reaching 3600 hours of solar radiation reaching 2500 kilowatts per square meter, help increase renewable energy production.
  3. Unique geographical location and established trade relations with many markets, especially European and Asian countries.
  4. Strategic partnerships between national oil companies and their global counterparts are at the forefront of the energy transition process.
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Challenges of Investing in Hydrogen

“Despite these competitive elements, building a competitive hydrogen economy is still difficult, due to many challenges,” said Engineer Wael Hamid Abdel Moati, OAPEC gas and hydrogen expert.

Abdel Moti reviews several challenges in this regard in his research paper:

First: Economic Feasibility and High Investment Costs:

The cost of manufacturing electrolyzers is very high, at $840-1000 per kilowatt of installed capacity, due to the difficulty of finding funding and the high cost of producing hydrogen, which is $32 per million British thermal units compared to that. $5 per million British thermal units, in the case of natural gas (about 7 times more).

Second: Regulatory Policies and Procedures:

There is a need to develop a hydrogen policy and define a clear role for it in national energy strategies, in addition to the importance of establishing regulatory procedures and creating the necessary legislative environment to regulate investment.

Third: Technical Requirements:

The water requirements for electrolyzers (10 liters of demineralized water per kilogram), and the challenges of hydrogen transport and storage, are still underdeveloped and costly.

OAPEC expert, engineer Wael Hamed, and the cost of hydrogen production
Engineer Wael Hamed presenting his research paper (Arab Energy Conference – Qatar 2023)

OAPEC’s strategy to accelerate the creation of a hydrogen economy

To overcome these challenges, especially the cost of hydrogen production, the OAPEC expert proposed a 3-stage strategy:

  • First Stage (2-5 Years):

The position is based on investing in the implementation of pilot and test projects to produce green hydrogen on a commercial scale, in collaboration with companies specializing in the sector, to understand the fundamental principles of the technology and build the necessary knowledge base.

At this point, a window into local demand can be created by implementing pilot projects to use hydrogen in fuel cells for the transport sector, or to use green hydrogen in chemical industries such as ammonia.

  • Secondary (5-15 years):
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It represents an important transitional step in establishing the infrastructure for the hydrogen sector, and the policies that regulate it work to benefit from existing gas infrastructure to develop carbon capture and storage technology, by expanding the production of blue hydrogen using available natural gas. and harnessing depleted oil fields for carbon sequestration. Upon completion of the preparation of hydrogen policies, including development of technical specifications, regulatory frameworks and project financing models.

  • Third stage (15 years and above):

At this point, it is planned to expand significantly in the construction of electrolysis devices, after the expected decline in their capital costs, which may reach $500 per kilowatt and become available with large capacities to help produce green hydrogen commercially. Larger prices, then compete to export it to potential demand centers like Asian and European markets.

Number of hydrogen projects in Arab countries

OAPEC expert, Engineer Wael Abdel Moati, revealed the latest data regarding the outcome of hydrogen projects announced in Arab countries.

He pointed out that the number of announced projects has increased to 82 projects, covering all sectors from transportation, to end-use applications, and confirming the start of the second phase of investment in engineering, supply and hydrogen. Construction contracts to contracting companies, and signing binding commercial contracts with partners to sell the output of these projects.

According to him, “This move reflects the true determination of policy makers and decision makers to invest in hydrogen energy and make it a reality in a few years and help countries in the region lead the world in producing and exporting hydrogen. In a few years it went to different markets.

Engineer Wael Abdel Moati concluded his dissertation with the message, “Natural gas and hydrogen are two elements for the sustainability of the energy mix in the future.”

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Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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