Workers photographed walking past a section of solar panels at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum solar park in Dubai on March 20, 2017.
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A Dubai-based project dubbed “The Middle East and North Africa’s First Industrial-Scale Solar Powered Green Hydrogen Facility” has been inaugurated. Those behind the development hope it will help catalyze the renewable energy sector in the region.
In a statement Wednesday, Siemens Energy The power for the pilot project – a collaboration with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and Expo 2020 Dubai – would come from the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park, a huge solar system with a production capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030.
Hydrogen is described by the International Energy Agency as a “versatile energy carrier” and has a wide range of applications and can be used in sectors such as industry and transport.
It can be made in a number of ways. One method involves the use of electrolysis, where an electrical current splits water into oxygen and hydrogen.
If the electricity used comes from a renewable source such as wind or sun, it is referred to by some as “green” or “renewable” hydrogen.
Currently, the vast majority of hydrogen production is fossil fuel based and “green” hydrogen is expensive to produce.
In an interview with Dan Murphy from CNBC, Christian Bruch, CEO of Siemens Energy, was asked when the plant in Dubai, which is located in a DEWA test facility in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum solar park, would be economically viable.
Bruch said his company “invested a lot of money” in developing the technology. “But I think we are now in a situation where some of these elements could be accelerated very quickly,” he said, drawing parallels with other sectors.
“When I look back on photovoltaics, it wasn’t that long ago that everyone … said it would never fly commercially, right?” Photovoltaics is a way of converting light from the sun directly into electricity using the technology used in solar panels.
“Wind (was) the same … ‘that will never be competitive against hydrocarbons, it won’t work,'” said Bruch. “It went much, much, much faster than we all believed when it was scaled,” he added.
“And the same thing that we can see here. We still have a long way to go. So we still need courageous doers and this pioneering spirit, but I think now we can accelerate with projects like this.”
Dubai is part of the United Arab Emirates. As a member of the OPEC oil cartel, the UAE is a major producer of crude oil and gas, but also blessed with plenty of sunshine, the crucial component for solar power systems.
While Bruch is a major player in fossil fuels, he has been asked how much green hydrogen the UAE could produce and if he could see a future in which he would become an exporter of hydrogen.
“I wouldn’t really see the limitation from a UAE perspective if I also see the massive resources you have on the renewable side.”
“I believe it has to be one of the most important future business models in the United Arab Emirates and in the entire region, it will also be in order to also be an energy exporter for the world in the future.”