The future of green-clean hydrogen in the UAE offers significant potential for sustainable energy development.
Policy and collaboration play a key role in materializing the opportunity, while a global consultancy firm can play a pivotal role in facilitating its growth through strategic guidance, expertise, and innovative solutions that help maximize its impact on the region's clean energy transition.
Understanding Green-Clean Hydrogen
Hydrogen power describes hydrogen gas typically produced from fossil fuels like natural gas via steam methane forming coal through gasification. The process releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants.
In contrast, green-clean hydrogen, also known as green hydrogen, is produced through a sustainable process that uses renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power to electrolyze water, separating hydrogen from oxygen. As an environmentally friendly process, it emits no greenhouse gasses.
Prioritizing sustainable development practices helps countries adapt to climate change challenges, reduce pollution, and protect important natural resources.
Current State of Hydrogen in the UAE
With easy access to solar power, the UAE is positioned to succeed in green hydrogen efforts and has started to develop its hydrogen infrastructure. Although hydrogen power is a new and dynamic industry, the construction of green hydrogen facilities is already planned and underway in the UAE. Green hydrogen can also seamlessly integrate into the nation’s existing infrastructure, such as refueling stations and gas pipelines.
The UAE government has been actively pursuing initiatives and policies to promote the development and adoption of hydrogen as a clean energy source. For example, the Green Hydrogen Policy was introduced in 2021 and aims to establish the UAE as a leading global hub for green hydrogen production and export. The government has also invested in research and development projects, fostering partnerships with international organizations and companies to advance hydrogen technologies.
Recently, the Minister of Energy and Infrastructure announced the National Hydrogen Strategy, which outlines how the UAE aims to become a reliable producer and supplier of green hydrogen by 2031. The strategy plays a role in the country’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
Combating climate change demands global collaboration, and the UAE is actively engaging with other countries to accelerate the development of green hydrogen technologies. For example, the UAE-based renewable energy company Masdar has joined the Hydrogen Council, the “voice of clean hydrogen action.”
Advantages and Challenges
Adopting green-clean hydrogen offers the UAE several advantages, such as aligning with the country’s commitment to sustainable and clean energy sources and reducing its carbon footprint (of which the UAE has one of the world's highest per capita carbon footprints).
Aside from the positive environmental impact and long-term sustainability, green-clean hydrogen production enhances energy security by reducing the UAE’s dependence on fossil fuels while promoting innovation and economic growth to establish the hydrogen industry.
While the advantages are significant, a few challenges delay the widespread adoption of green-clean hydrogen in the UAE. Two examples are the high initial investment required for the infrastructure and the intermittent nature of renewable energy sources.
As technology for green hydrogen production continues to evolve, more research and development efforts are needed to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Finally, the logistical challenges of transporting and distributing green-clean hydrogen must be addressed — along with the development of regulatory and policy frameworks to support the transition.
UAE's Commitment to Sustainable Energy
The UAE is committed to a sustainable future characterized by renewable energy adoption, environmental conservation, and technological innovation to drive economic growth and reduce its carbon footprint.
As a demonstration of commitment, the UAE plans to invest as much as $54 billion in renewables in their net zero push, with the government focusing on hydrogen as the main source of clean energy.
The Emirati government also benefits from the economic diversification of green energy, with access to solar supporting domestic efforts for green hydrogen, which the UAE can export to “energy-hungry countries that lack the space or infrastructure.”
By committing to sustainable energy, the UAE aligns with global sustainability goals, such as the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, which also discuss clean energy access, environmental protection, and climate action.
Green Hydrogen in Various Sectors
Green-clean hydrogen offers significant potential for integration across various industries, offering a clean and versatile energy source. Consider the following significant industries as examples:
Hydrogen fuel cells can power automobiles, trucks, and buses, providing a zero-emission alternative to conventional fossil fuels. Recently, the Integrated Transport Centre in Abu Dhabi announced a trial operation of its first hydrogen-powered taxi to ensure that Abu Dhabi meets its goal of helping to accelerate the global transition to green transport systems.
Hydrogen can be used as a feedstock for industries like chemical production, reducing carbon emissions in the process. In another example, Masdar and Emirates Steel Arkan plan to start a test project for using green hydrogen to produce steel in 2024.
While the UAE offers great potential in the development of hydrogen power, the potential is maximized through collaboration.
The UAE has actively engaged in global partnerships for hydrogen research and development. For example, the UAE collaborated with the International Energy Agency (IEA), contributing to information exchange, research cooperation, and developing appropriate technologies.
There are other examples of international collaboration on a granular level, such as the UAE’s memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Russia, which outlines collaborative efforts for hydrogen development. The UAE has also signed an MoU for bilateral collaboration with the Netherlands in the hydrogen field.
International cooperation pools expertise, shares resources, and accelerates research and development, which ultimately drives innovation and facilitates the transition to a sustainable and low-carbon energy future.
Future Outlook for Green-Clean Hydrogen in the UAE
The development of green hydrogen is viewed as highly optimistic, with increasing investments dedicated to expanding production capacity and improving research. The UAE has several goalposts for the future, such as creating two hydrogen oases within eight years and expanding to five by 2050.
The global green hydrogen market is expected to reach $108.64 billion by 2031, and the UAE is a significant player in reaching this forecast value. The development also aligns with the UAE’s goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. Consider that individual organizations are establishing their own goals, such as Masdar pursuing a target of producing one million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030.
The widespread adoption of green-clean hydrogen in the UAE holds the potential for significant economic growth, job creation, and a substantial reduction in carbon emissions.
Green hydrogen is key in helping the UAE achieve its carbon neutrality goals by providing a clean and versatile energy source to replace carbon-intensive fuels. Essentially, green hydrogen offers reputational and practical benefits by positioning the country as a leader in sustainable energy innovation.
Global Consultancy Services for a More Sustainable Future
Green hydrogen's potential in the UAE introduces a transformative opportunity for sustainable energy development. Global consultancy services provide the expertise and strategic guidance needed to harness this potential effectively, paving the way for a greener and more environmentally responsible future.
Read our latest insights, ideas, and perspectives that explore the trends shaping the future of business and society. Our consultancy services go hand-in-hand with these insights, confirming our position as industry leaders. Get in touch to find out more about our consulting services and industry expertise.