The National - News
DISTRICT 2020 DUBAI JOINS THE HYDROGEN REVOLUTION
▶ UAE and UK to become partners in developing sustainable transport fuels
Hydrogen-powered transport will be the focus of research at a centre run by the UAE and UK at District 2020, the legacy project of Expo 2020 Dubai.
Grant Shapps, UK Secretary of State for Transport, said cutting carbon emissions in the aviation and shipping industries was the biggest challenge ahead.
Speaking at a future travel forum at the UK pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai, Mr Shapps urged nations to embrace the “mobility revolution”.
“The biggest challenge is decarbonising international transport,” he said.
“One of our priorities will be to promote forms of hydrogen-powered transport in Dubai to become a focus of collaboration between the two countries.”
It was one thing for the UK and UAE to achieve their environmental goals, but rising maritime and aviation emissions are a worldwide problem that needs a worldwide answer.
“Forward-thinking nations should lead the way,” Mr Shapps said. “That is why we are supporting a target of zero shipping emission by 2050.
“Transport is on the brink of huge change; a revolution is coming.
“It won’t be triggered by a single innovation, but something far more complex, and a whole range of technologies using electricity, hydrogen and big data to operate the way we travel.”
Mr Shapps said a 200-yearold link between the increase in travel and the rise of carbon emissions must be broken, and that will be the big challenge for all industrialised nations.
The UK will open an innovation centre in District 2020, the current Expo site, next year, Mr Shapps said.
The hydrogen power centre will be a collaboration between the two countries, he said.
The UK pavilion forum addressed ways of providing sustainable transport.
It looked at the social, environmental and economic dimensions involved in creating travel that is clean, efficient and cuts carbon emissions.
Mr Shapps’ speech was followed by panel discussions involving industry leaders and academics.
He said hydrogen and electric-powered travel, plus wider adoption of sustainable aviation fuel, were critical to make air travel economically and socially viable.
If the aviation can be decarbonised, cleaning up the rest of transport is a relatively straightforward, he said.
Long-term targets had to be balanced by short-term goals such as speeding up the development of sustainable aviation fuels.
“We want to boost that acceleration towards cleaner fuels, and we are working with the UAE to bring that initiative alive,” Mr Shapps said.
“We are investing heavily in the UK’s first hydrogen transport hub in the north-east of England,” the minister said, referring to a site in the Tees Valley that may employ 5,000 people.
“Tenders have been announced by BP, Adnoc and Masdar to work together across both countries to develop hydrogen hubs to boost jobs further.
“There are unique challenges ahead, so we must be willing to share ideas, resources, risks and rewards,” he said.
This is the kind of alliance the UK has with the UAE, when bilateral trade was worth more than £30 billion ($40.1bn) in 2020.
“That will increase, with £10bn of investment from the UAE into the UK’s fastest growing industries, infrastructure and clean energy,” Mr Shapps said.
Sales of new vehicles powered by diesel and petrol are to end in the UK by 2030.
At the Cop26 climate change talks in Glasgow, Scotland, this month, while nations made pledges to reduce carbon emissions, 38 countries and six major vehicle manufacturers signed up to work towards zero-emission vehicle production only by 2040 or earlier.
“This new revolution will be mobility-plus,” Mr Shapps said.
“Self-driving vehicles will transform lives in isolated communities, particular for the disabled and elderly.
“Drones will distribute goods safely and cleanly, and we have already experimented with this on the Isle of Wight, with drones delivering medicine during the pandemic.
“Another area will be the development of electric vehicles that can recharge on the run or while parked up wirelessly, rather than having to plug them in overnight,” Mr Shapps said.
A revolution is coming. It won’t be triggered by a single innovation, but something far more complex
UK Secretary of State for Transport