Adnoc interested in exploring hydrogen opportunities in India

South Asia's largest economy is looking at alternative forms of energy

(FILES) This file photo taken on March 04, 2021, a technician works on the hydrogen tank of an under construction hydrogen bus, at the plant of the Albi's Automobile Company for Repair and Manufacturing (Societe Albigeoise Fabrication Reparation Automobile - SAFRA), in Albi, southwestern France.  / AFP / GEORGES GOBET
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Abu Dhabi National Oil Company is interested in exploring opportunities in hydrogen with India's public and private sector entities as the UAE looks to leverage its existing hydrocarbons partnership to supply newer forms of energy to South Asia's biggest economy.

"Today, India is one of our biggest and most important trading partners, particularly in the field of energy," Dr Sultan Al Jaber, Adnoc Group managing director and chief executive, said at a high-level ministerial session on hydrogen organised by The Energy Forum, India's petroleum ministry as well as the Federation of Indian Petroleum Industry.

"And as India’s demand for energy grows, we stand ready to help meet that demand by making the full portfolio of our products available to the Indian market," he added.

Dr Al Jaber is also the UAE's minister of industry and advanced technology.

Adnoc can help India "navigate the global energy transition", Dr Al Jaber said.

"We believe hydrogen offers promise and potential as a genuinely zero-carbon fuel."

The alternative fuel, which has risen in prominence in several markets around the world, is being prioritised for development in the UAE, Opec's third-largest producer.

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

Oil-exporting countries in the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE plan to tap into hydrogen and produce the clean, alternative fuel for exports in the future.

Adnoc, Abu Dhabi investment company Mubadala and holding company ADQ announced the formation of a hydrogen alliance earlier this year.

Adnoc, which already produces 300,000 tonnes of hydrogen on an annual basis for its downstream operations, plans to ramp up its output significantly.

The company plans to expand its manufacturing capacity for the clean gas to more than 500,000 tonnes.

The hydrogen alliance will pursue development of green hydrogen across the UAE, while Adnoc will continue to produce blue hydrogen using its present infrastructure independently.

Blue hydrogen is manufactured through methane reformation, which relies on carbon capture and storage. Green hydrogen relies on renewable sources to power electrolysis that splits water molecules to manufacture the gas. The process is largely seen as expensive today.

However, a recent study by BloombergNEF found that green hydrogen could be cheaper than natural gas by 2050, as costs for solar power continue to decline.

"Working together, we are identifying viable international market opportunities and developing a roadmap to create a hydrogen ecosystem to serve both the UAE and the global market," Dr Al Jaber told the Indian forum.

The national oil company is currently working with present and potential partners to build value chains "required to seed the emerging hydrogen market".

Adnoc is also looking to tap into its existing commercial-scale carbon capture utilisation and storage capacities to become a big player in the blue hydrogen sector.

The UAE also has plans to produce hydrogen from nuclear power, which will provide a continuous uninterrupted source of energy.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Company, which is part of the portfolio of ADQ, could supply power to produce hydrogen.

Last month, the UAE Cabinet approved a nationwide system for hydrogen vehicles, as the country ramps up production of blue and green variants of the fuel.