Hydrogen as sustainable fuel for the future

The Middle East is at the forefront of promoting hydrogen as a fuel

Martin Menachery is the editor of Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.
Martin Menachery is the editor of Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East.

Hydrogen has the potential to become a key element for a sustainable and secure energy future. This was highlighted in a recently released study from the International Energy Agency. The study – The Future of Hydrogen: Seizing Today’s Opportunities – reveals that clean hydrogen is currently receiving strong support from governments and businesses around the world, with the number of policies and projects expanding rapidly.

At the launch of the study, Dr Fatih Birol, executive director of International Energy Agency, said: “Hydrogen is today enjoying unprecedented momentum, driven by governments that both import and export energy, as well as the renewables industry, electricity and gas utilities, automakers, oil and gas companies, major technology firms and big cities. The world should not miss this unique chance to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future.

Due to environmental advantages, hydrogen’s role in the global market is expected to see continued growth. According to a report recently released by BCC Research – Hydrogen as a Chemical Constituent and as an Energy Source – the hydrogen market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 5.7%, reaching $19.7bn globally by 2023.

An extensive range of fuels can produce hydrogen, including natural gas, coal, oil, renewables, and nuclear. Since it is available everywhere, it offers an attractive potential replacement for fossil fuels. It could be transported as a gas by pipelines, or in liquid form by ships. Another advantage of hydrogen is that it can be converted into electricity, or methane to power homes and feed industry, and into fuels for cars, trucks, ships and planes. Currently there are around 11,200 hydrogen-powered cars on the road globally. According to the current government targets, that number should increase to 2.5mn by 2030.

It is worth mentioning here that the Middle East is at the forefront of promoting hydrogen as a fuel as manifested by Saudi Aramco and Air Products recently inaugurating the first hydrogen fuelling station in Saudi Arabia at Air Products’ new Technology Center in the Dhahran Techno Valley Science Park. The pilot station will fuel an initial fleet of six Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles with high-purity compressed hydrogen.

Hydrogen’s future potential as a sustainable future is reflected in the words of Amin H Nasser, president and chief executive officer of Saudi Aramco, at the launch of the pilot station: “This pilot project represents an exciting opportunity for Saudi Aramco and Air Products to demonstrate the potential of hydrogen in the transport sector and its viability as a sustainable fuel for the future.

While meeting growing energy demand, the world also needs a sustainable system to address environmental challenges. Clean hydrogen could emerge as a critical part of the solution.

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