Adnoc partners with Thyssenkrupp to create new markets for hydrogen

The two companies will explore the development of projects for large-scale ammonia cracking, which is used to extract hydrogen

Senior executives from Adnoc and Thyssenkrupp Uhde at the signing of a preliminary agreement during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Photo: Adnoc
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Adnoc has signed a preliminary agreement with the engineering unit of Germany's Thyssenkrupp to create new markets for hydrogen and explore the development of projects for large-scale ammonia cracking.

As part of the deal, signed at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, Adnoc and Thyssenkrupp Uhde will work together to develop commercial-scale ammonia cracking plants, which are used to extract hydrogen from ammonia after transportation.

The two companies will also explore opportunities in the clean energy value chain for the supply and shipment of low-carbon or green ammonia from the UAE to large-scale ammonia cracking facilities globally, Adnoc said in a statement on Tuesday.

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“Adnoc's fast-growing hydrogen business is enabled by the UAE’s abundant and competitive energy reserves,” said Musabbeh Al Kaabi, executive director, low carbon solutions and international growth directorate, at Adnoc.

“We are committed to strengthening our position as a reliable supplier of lower carbon-intensive energy, creating new revenue streams and growing the global market for hydrogen.”

Hydrogen, which can be produced using renewable energy and natural gas, is expected to play a key role in the coming years as economies and industries transition to a low-carbon world to mitigate climate change.

Globally, the hydrogen industry is expected to be worth $183 billion this year, up from $129 billion in 2017, according to Fitch Solutions.

French investment bank Natixis estimates that investment in hydrogen will exceed $300 billion by 2030.

The UAE, which is investing heavily in the industry, aims to be among the top 10 hydrogen-producing countries globally, a Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure official said on Monday.

Sharif Al Olama, the Ministry's Undersecretary for Energy and Petroleum Affairs, told Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week that the country had taken “great strides” in developing clean hydrogen technologies to reduce the cost of hydrogen as a sustainable source of energy.

“We in the UAE aim to capture 25 per cent of the low carbon hydrogen key markets and aspire to be one of the top 10 hydrogen-producing countries in the world within this decade,” said Mr Al Olama.

“Global hydrogen demand is seen rising to over 600 million metric tonnes a year by the year 2050, which represents 12 per cent of the total global energy demand.”

Adnoc, which is investing in green hydrogen through Masdar, has expanded its strategic energy partnerships across the hydrogen value chain.

In September last year, it shipped its first-ever demonstration cargo of low-carbon ammonia to Germany.

Ammonia is a carrier of hydrogen and it is much easier to compress and transport.

When shipped, after arriving at its destination, the ammonia needs to be decomposed, or cracked into hydrogen, before use in the energy value chain.

Adnoc has already invested in low-carbon ammonia, whereby the carbon dioxide emitted during production is captured and stored underground.

In May last year, the company announced a 1 million tonnes per year low-carbon ammonia production plant at the Ta'ziz industrial ecosystem and chemicals hub.

Under the latest deal, Adnoc will explore using the ammonia cracking process based on Thyssenkrupp Uhde's reformer technology, which is applied in more than 130 large-scale chemical plants across the world.

“Countries in Europe, along with many others, are looking to clean hydrogen imports to decarbonise industry and society,” Cord Landsmann, chief executive of Thyssenkrupp Uhde, said.

“Clean ammonia is the best way to transport hydrogen by ship, and together with Adnoc, we will deliver the last piece of the puzzle for global clean hydrogen trade at large scale.”

Updated: January 17, 2023, 11:36 AM