Arab News Japan
The United Arab Emirates could lay the foundation for economic growth in a decarbonized world and ensure its continued influence in the energy market by seizing the clean hydrogen opportunity and leveraging its existing relationships with energy partners such as Japan to offer it as an additional product within its export portfolio.
Referring to to the UAE’s efforts to increase production of clean hydrogen, Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Eiichiro Washio said in an interview with state news agency WAM that “In fact, the UAE is endowed with not only oil and gas, but also bright sunshine, so the country has a great potential for supplying hydrogen in the future.”
Hydrogen is a versatile energy carrier that can be produced from a wide range of sources. Green hydrogen is a fuel made by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis, which is a process powered by renewable sources and creates no emissions. Since hydrogen fuels need renewable energy to be green, it would require renewable generation to power the electrolysis plants.
The driver behind the UAE’s interest in the use of Hydrogen stems from the unique advantages they have that could allow them to lead the hydrogen economy and their incentive to move away from fossil fuels.
The UAE is investing in green and blue hydrogen projects in the effort to develop new clean energy sources. For example, state-owned Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) is developing a pilot green hydrogen mobility project at Expo 2020 by powering a number of fuel-cell vehicles that use the fuel produced by a solar-driven hydrogen electrolysis facility at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The solar park is expected to have an installed capacity of 5 GW by 2030.
The abundance of solar resource potential in the UAE means that it holds significant advantages in the production of green hydrogen, due to abundant, low-cost solar energy, which will enable it to supply large export markets.
“On the other hand, Japan has been exploring technologies to supply hydrogen and ammonia. For example, to supply hydrogen, the world’s largest electrolyser with 10 megawatt (MW) capacity, powered by solar photovoltaic generation with 20 MW capacity, started its operation in Fukushima Prefecture last year,” Washio said.
On Jan. 14, 2021, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) signed a memorandum of cooperation to further advance bilateral cooperation in areas including hydrogen and fuel ammonia.
“As such, I think there is a foundation for cooperation between the UAE and Japan,” Washio said.
Elaborating on the topic, Washio said that the “so-called green recovery” is currently enjoying new widespread momentum and is increasingly becoming not only a critical part of the decarbonization agenda, but also a part of the post-COVID economic recovery plan. This is because the inception of new sectors within the economy such as the renewable energy sector, will offer employment prospects for people with a wide range of experiences and backgrounds.
“In this regard, there is a potential for cooperation between Japan and the UAE in the fields of hydrogen and ammonia, including efforts toward the establishment of their international supply chains,” Washio added.
Sultan Al Jaber, chief executive officer of ADNOC said at a virtual conference in January that the UAE is exploring the potential of new fuels that will enable the production of more energy with fewer emissions.
ADNOC produces around 300,000 tons of hydrogen annually for its downstream operations, and it intends to expand output to more than 500,000 tons, according to a statement by the compnay.
Washio provided an overview of the development plans that Japan has in place for the introduction of renewable energy sources. He also pointed out the key issues related to power generation that are being addressed in preparation for the transition, which include the assessment of the total cost of the entire power system, the acquisition of mineral resources that are used for storage batteries and motors and the management disposal of solar panels that are expected to become a pertinent environmental issue in the next decades.
“Japan has declared its intention to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, showing its commitment to energy transitions centring on the maximum introduction of renewable energy,” he said.
The UAE is Japan’s second-largest crude oil supplier, accounting for over 30 percent of oil imports right after Saudi Arabia.
During the half-century successful partnership, the UAE and Japan have reaffirmed their commitment to developing their common vision, further strengthening cooperation in all areas of common interest and pushing forward toward achieving mutual benefit and progress in a systematic and comprehensive manner.
Highlighting the long standing bilateral relations between the UAE and Japan, Washio mentioned that the two countries maintained cooperating despite the dire circumstances posed by the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This was accomplished through various telephone talks and online consultations between members of both governments, which have enabled them to enhance their cooperation based on the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership Initiative (CSPI) that was signed in 2018.
He also reaffirmed their commitment to developing their common vision by citing the role that Japan played in ensuring the success of the UAE’s Mars mission (Hope Probe), which launched from Tanegashima Space Center last year, mounted on a Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ H-IIA launch vehicle F42.
“Looking ahead to the 50th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries next year, we are committed to further deepening our bilateral relations in various fields of mutual interest,” Washio said.