Abu Dhabi to develop hydrogen policy with new regulations and standards

The emirate aims to become a 'leader' in the international hydrogen market, senior official says

Abu Dhabi is developing technical standards and licensing procedures to support the growth of the hydrogen sector in the emirate. Khushnum Bhandari / The National
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The Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE) is developing a hydrogen policy with new regulations and standards, and aims to become a “leader in the international hydrogen market” as the demand for clean fuel surges globally amid decarbonisation efforts.

The emirate is developing a regulatory framework including a low carbon hydrogen certification regulatory policy, technical standards and licensing procedures to support the sector, according to a senior official at the DoE.

“With the emergence of hydrogen as a clean energy option, Abu Dhabi is relying on its resources and capabilities to form a national hydrogen strategy and become a leader in the international hydrogen market,” Ahmed Al Rumaithi, undersecretary of the DoE, told state news agency Wam in an interview.

Hydrogen comes in various forms, including blue, green and grey. Blue and grey hydrogen are produced from natural gas, while green is derived from splitting water by electrolysis.

Globally, the hydrogen industry is expected to be worth $183 billion by 2023, up from $129bn in 2017, according to Fitch Solutions. French investment bank Natixis estimates that investment in hydrogen will exceed $300bn by 2030.

Abu Dhabi has made “remarkable progress” in the field of hydrogen, taking advantage of the abundance of solar power and increasingly low-cost renewable energy, Mr Al Rumaithi said.

“One of the important initiatives was the launch of the Abu Dhabi Hydrogen Alliance … to consolidate our international leadership in hydrogen and develop the local hydrogen economy.”

Last year, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, Mubadala and industrial holding company ADQ signed a preliminary agreement to form a hydrogen alliance focusing on low-carbon green and blue hydrogen as part of the UAE’s energy diversification efforts.

Under the terms of the agreement, the alliance will develop a road map to accelerate the UAE’s adoption of hydrogen in major sectors such as utilities, mobility and industry, through their respective operating companies and with international partners.

They will also focus on establishing Abu Dhabi as “a trusted leader of low-carbon green and blue hydrogen in emerging international markets”.

Abu Dhabi enjoys a “competitive advantage” that qualifies it to play a greater role in the field of hydrogen globally due to the presence of huge reserves of natural gas as well as its large industrial capabilities across the energy chain, its advanced infrastructure, extensive export experience and its central location among large demand markets, Mr Al Rumaithi said.

The UAE aims to capture about 25 per cent of the global hydrogen market and is in discussions with many countries to export it, Suhail Al Mazrouei, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure, said this year.

The Emirates has also joined the International Partnership for Hydrogen and Fuel Cells in the Economy (IPHE), the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure said on Monday.

IPHE is an international governmental partnership that is focused on facilitating and accelerating the transition to clean and efficient energy and mobility systems using hydrogen and fuel cell technologies across different sectors.

Joining the global initiative will support the country’s long-term policies related to energy and hydrogen and attract foreign investments, Sharif Al Olama, undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure for energy and petroleum affairs, said.

“We are working hard to upgrade the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, to drive our aim to become among the leading countries in the field of hydrogen energy,” Mr Al Olama said.

Meanwhile, as part of its decarbonisation efforts, Abu Dhabi also launched a regulatory policy to develop its electric vehicle charging infrastructure, Mr Al Rumaithi said.

It will also cover policies for ownership, installation and management of charging equipment and the requirements for providing a charging service.

Electric power generation investments in Abu Dhabi last year reached Dh18bn covering various technologies, Mr Al Rumaithi said.

Investments are expected to reach Dh50bn by 2025, and at least Dh80bn by 2050 with clean and renewable energy making up about two-thirds of the total.

As more renewable energy projects come online, such as the Al Dhafra solar project with a production capacity of 2 gigawatts, and with the full operation of the nuclear Barakah plant, the total share of solar energy generated is expected to be 7 per cent, while the projected share of clean nuclear energy will be 47 per cent by 2025, Mr Al Rumaithi said.

Updated: May 12, 2023, 2:43 PM