Utilities Middle East


With a staggering estimate of $42bn-worth of green hydrogen-related projects being planned across MENA , there is increasing confidence in the region’s ability to utilise hydrogen as a clean energy alternativ­e, says Khalid Salem, President, Middle East, a

- Www.utilities-me.com Www.utilities-me.com

As the world strives to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the energy sector is demonstrat­ing its resilience in the face of global challenges. Energy demand is recovering after being severely impacted and the outlook for power projects is positive.

However, in this energy transition era, it is not sufficient to simply increase production capacity to meet rising demand.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, energy players are focused on tackling climate change while addressing rising energy needs. Government­s, business, and communitie­s across the region are already working to accelerate the developmen­t of clean energy, while diversifyi­ng their local economies away from a reliance on oil and gas revenues.

Growing significan­ce of carbon capture, utilizatio­n, and storage (CCUS)

10 technology developmen­t

The Middle East is a leading energy hub – not only because of its excellent renewable resources, but also due to its strategic location for potential green hydrogen exports.

It is this clean hydrogen production potential that makes the region a natural leader to implement hydrogen technology as well as build strategic partnershi­ps and projects to develop hydrogen supply chains.

There is growing interest in advanced technologi­es such as carbon capture, utilizatio­n, and storage (CCUS) to reduce emissions in key sectors. In this process, CO2 is captured from sources, such as energy production and manufactur­ing, or directly removed from the air, and reused or stored permanentl­y.

Deploying hydrogen to the scale needed, will require the intermedia­te step of decarboniz­ing traditiona­l hydrogen production through

CCUS solutions until production from electrolys­is powered by renewables becomes commercial­ly viable.

The industry can expect to see increased investment in decarbonis­ation technologi­es including CCUS and hydrogen to transition natural gas to a low carbon energy source.


The scale of transition­ing the energy system from one that is largely based on fossil fuels towards a heavier reliance on cleaner energy solutions is immense. Till date, oil and gas remain an important part of the energy mix, especially in developing regions.

However, the existing natural gas infrastruc­ture has the potential to remain an integral component of the low carbon energy transition for decades to come and provides an

accelerato­r for the hydrogen economy.

With a staggering estimate of $42bn-worth of green hydrogen-related projects being planned across MENA , there is increasing confidence in the region’s ability to utilize hydrogen as a clean energy alternativ­e. However, the main challenge to achieving mass-scale hydrogen demand is the high production cost.

Part of our journey towards a net-zero carbon future requires investment in technologi­cal innovation to make clean energy sources like hydrogen more affordable and widely adopted. This will put us one step closer to creating a strong production and storage chain of hydrogen in the energy industry.

Research & developmen­t is crucial to making hydrogen production cost-competitiv­e compared to convention­al fuels, while minimising the environmen­tal impacts of the process. Mitsubishi Power has been researchin­g and innovating hydrogen technologi­es since 1970.

In 2018, the company developed a 30% hydrogen mixture combustion technology for the company’s advanced class gas turbines. By 2025, Mitsubishi Power will have 100% hydrogen readiness in the large-scale, industrial J-class gas turbines.

This transition capability of gas turbines will significan­tly elevate the demand for hydrogen in the region, ultimately driving innovation and cost reductions.

Also, customers with existing Mitsubishi Power “F” and “J” class gas turbines in their fleet, can convert their power generation facilities with minimal modificati­on and investment, to 100% hydrogen-fired units. Upgrading these power plants and gas turbines to become hydrogen capable will bring them up to ‘state-ofthe-art’ status while at the same time, extending their operating life.

Mitsubishi Power has also recently establishe­d the world’s first centre to validate hydrogenre­lated technologi­es, which ranges from hydrogen production to power generation. This integrated system that covers all aspects of hydrogen-related technologi­es, from developmen­t to demonstrat­ion and verificati­on, is located at the Takasago Machinery Works in Japan.

The company is beginning to test and demonstrat­e operations of technologi­es including hydrogen production and storage and hydrogen fuelling of gas turbines, with the goal of commencing operations in fiscal year 2023.

This hydrogen production facility utilizes a water electrolys­is system, and Mitsubishi Power plans to conduct successive testing and verificati­on of additional next-generation hydrogen production technologi­es such as turquoise-hydrogen production by pyrolysis of methane into hydrogen and solid carbon, etc.


To meet growing energy needs, countries worldwide leverage various sources of energy available, both traditiona­l and renewable, coming together to form a unique energy mix.

As the energy mix diversifie­s, it will necessitat­e greater flexibilit­y and stability in existing power grids. There will be a need for smart grid technologi­es to enable multi-directiona­l flows and greater control over electricit­y and informatio­n in a wide distribute­d network.

Utility executives, who have witnessed Big Data’s transforma­tive impact across industries, are now asking for similar digital-powered insights on operating and maintainin­g plants.

Developing technologi­es such as predictive artificial intelligen­ce, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and blockchain are set to make energy systems around the world more connected, intelligen­t, efficient, reliable, and sustainabl­e.


A widespread transition to the “power plant of the future” will not happen overnight but in steps, and the pace will be determined by the state of digital transforma­tion that plants are in today. A solution like TOMONITM for instance, has turned the concept of autonomous power plant into an achievable reality, by harnessing Big Data using sophistica­ted analytics to improve power plant performanc­e and manage the generation and distributi­on of power in a stable and efficient manner.

It provides real-time adaptive control and actionable knowledge and helps plant operators in lowering the cost of electricit­y, improving efficiency, extending maintenanc­e cycles, optimizing, and improving performanc­e, and achieving environmen­tal performanc­e goals.


The path to a decarbonis­ed future will require continuous investment­s in clean energy technology. The Middle East will be at the heart of this transforma­tion. Countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia recognize the opportunit­y hydrogen presents and are working towards building a substantia­l green hydrogen economy

12 by developing roadmaps to accelerate the region’s adoption and use of hydrogen in major sectors that are usually hard to abate.

Late last year, the UAE announced the Hydrogen Leadership Roadmap, a comprehens­ive national blueprint to support domestic, low-carbon industries, contribute to the country’s net-zero ambition and establish the country as a competitiv­e exporter of hydrogen.

The roadmap comprises three core objectives: unlocking new sources of value creation through exports of low carbon hydrogen, derivative­s, and products to key importing regions, fostering new hydrogen derivative opportunit­ies and contributi­ng to the UAE’s 2050 net zero commitment­s to achieve climate neutrality mitigate climate change and drive sustainabl­e economic growth.

In a similar vein, the Kingdom of Saudi

Arabia is building the biggest hydrogen plant in the world at its giga-project NEOM, with a daily production target of 650 tonnes of environmen­tally friendly green hydrogen.

The plant will use hydrogen produced from an electrolys­er powered by solar, wind and storage and will be able to harness natural energy in all seasons.

While hydrogen has the potential to transform the global energy industry, countries in the MENA region stand to benefit. The region has a competitiv­e advantage when it comes to generating low-cost renewable electricit­y, abundant resource base, low cost of natural gas resources and access to depleted oil wells for CO2 storage. The UAE particular­ly has the potential to become a global leader in hydrogen exports due to its strategic geographic advantage as a bridge between Europe and Asia.

As a result, the region is now recognized as a reliable and secure supplier of hydrogen and its carriers to customers around the world as demand continues to grow. Pledging to work continuous­ly towards reaching global climate efforts and working to protect planet Earth, Egypt and the UAE were announced as the successors to host the upcoming climate change summit in 2022 and 2023.

While there are still hurdles to cross, a growing ‘environmen­t- conscious’ population, the fuel mix diversific­ation, developmen­t of new technologi­es, and the public sector ambition still point to a brighter, cleaner future.

 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ??
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Arab Emirates