Saturday, June 19, 2021

Middle East’s first waste-to-hydrogen plant set to be game changer for UAE’s clean energy push

Decades of damage to the environment followed by climate change has finally accelerated the search for eco-friendly alternatives to fossil fuels. The quest for a sustainable future has also convinced Middle Eastern economies to cut emissions and look for clean fuels which can be used domestically, while replacing oil as an energy export from the region.

Among Emirati cities, Abu Dhabi has accelerated the production of clean fuel with a green hydrogen plant, on the other hand neighbouring Saudi Arabia has already started sending blue ammonia to Japan. Encouraged by the rise of the green energy source, another Emirati city Sharjah has adopted an innovative method of creating hydrogen fuel from trash.

The initiative which achieves efficient waste management and emission cuts at the same time, has been launched as part of a pact between UAE’s Bee’ah and British firm Chinook Sciences. A first-of-its-kind project in the Middle East, the plant is a shift from the prevalent practice of extracting hydrogen via electrolysis.

Bee’ah will subject waste to high temperatures for breaking down hydrocarbons so that green hydrogen can be obtained, as opposed to the traditional method where electric current is passed through water to split molecules. Cars running on this fuel only release water instead of smoke, and the facility in Sharjah will be able to provide energy for 1000 vehicles running on hydrogen every day.

Similar to Dubai’s initiative to create energy for a smart future from garbage, the unit will contribute to the Emirati vision of reducing emissions by 24% till 2030.

Recycling is also being enhanced to convert leftovers into plastic alternatives, and handle increasing e-waste in Middle East.

The demand for sustainable growth has shaped other projects including the UAE’s largest car park powered by solar energy in Abu Dhabi. Neighbouring countries like Saudi Arabia are also investing heavily to become global leaders in generation of green hydrogen.

At the same time, Qatar is using its natural gas resources to turn methane into protein for feeding fish, in order to bolster food security.

Image: Shutterstock

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