The Hydrogen Stream: Italy’s Eni lays out plans in Algeria and Egypt, UAE joins race with help from Japan

Italian energy company Eni is partnering with local companies in Algeria and Egypt to explore the possibility of producing green and blue hydrogen in the North African countries. The United Arab Emirates is also collaborating with Japanese partners to develop the country’s hydrogen sector, while in New York, hydrogen has arrived in Long Island.

July 9, 2021

Milan-based Eni is stepping up its hydrogen plans in North Africa, where it’s partnering with three local companies. On Wednesday, General Manager Alessandro Puliti met in Algiers with Toufik Hakkar, CEO of Sonatrach, to speak about green hydrogen opportunities in Algeria. “A road map was outlined for the joint assessment of the technical and commercial feasibility of a pilot project to produce hydrogen using electricity generated from renewable sources (solar and wind),” the company said in a statement. In order to preserve the country’s water resources, the companies will seek to use water produced by oil fields for the electrolysis processes necessary for the production of hydrogen after its appropriately treated. A day later, Eni announced it had signed an agreement with the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) and the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) to assess the technical and commercial feasibility of projects for the production of blue and green hydrogen in Egypt. “The parties will conduct a study into joint projects to produce green hydrogen, using electricity generated from renewables, and blue hydrogen, through the storage of CO2 in depleted natural gas fields,” Eni said in note released Thursday. The study will also analyze the local market consumption potential of hydrogen as well as export opportunities. Meanwhile, other Italian companies are teaming up to develop hydrogen solutions. Also on Thursday, defence group Leonardo and gas transmission operator Snam signed a memorandum of understanding for the joint development of cyber security and advanced sensor solutions for large energy networks. “This is the starting point for our partnership with Leonardo … to develop technologies aimed at strengthening the security of energy networks, optimising their management and decarbonising the aerospace sector through hydrogen,” Snam’s CEO Marco Alverà commented in a note.

The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) announced on Thursday an agreement with three Japanese entities to explore the commercial potential of blue ammonia production in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Adnoc signed the joint study agreement with two Japanese companies, Inpex Corporation and Jera, and the state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (Jogmec). “This joint study agreement with Inpex, Jera and Jogmec provides a roadmap for us to deepen access to Japanese markets for Adnoc’s products and further strengthen the UAE’s hydrogen value proposition,” said Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE minister of industry and advanced technology and Adnoc CEO. Adnoc is already working on a blue ammonia production facility at the Ta’ziz Industrial Chemicals Zone in the western Abu Dhabi city of Ruwais. The facility is expected to have a capacity of 1,000 kilotons a year. According to Al Jazeera, Adnoc is in talks with international, mostly Asian, energy companies about acquiring equity stakes in its hydrogen projects. The UAE is currently in competition with Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern oil producers as they increasingly focus on hydrogen production.

South Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia have signed a memorandum of understanding with Canadian water electrolysis technology company Next Hydrogen to develop an alkaline water electrolysis system and its related stack. “The aim is to advance stack-related technologies that are at the core of the alkaline water electrolysis system to reduce the cost of building the system and maintaining/operating the system,” Next Hydrogen said in a statement released Thursday. “The key benefit to be derived from the project is that by enhancing the performance of stack-related technologies in the alkaline water electrolysis process, it will be possible to develop a new stack which can be operated at high current density and produce green hydrogen economically,” the company explained.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that the US state was exploring the potential role of green hydrogen as part of its decarbonization strategy. “To support this effort to study green hydrogen and its possible applications, the state is collaborating with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, joining two hydrogen-focused organizations to inform state decision-making and making $12.5 million in funding available for long duration energy storage technologies and demonstration projects that may include green hydrogen,” the governor’s office said in a note released on Thursday. Additionally, the New York Power Authority (NYPA), collaborating with the Electric Power Research Institute, General Electric and hydrogen supplier Airgas, will undertake a green hydrogen demonstration project at NYPA’s natural gas plant on Long Island to evaluate hydrogen’s potential role in displacing fossil fuels from power generation. Among the many related initiatives, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is also preparing its stakeholder engagement effort. The state wants to reach 70% renewable electricity by 2030 and 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.

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Eight European companies, including Italy’s Enel, Spain’s Iberdrola, Denmark’s Ørsted and France’s EDF, sent a letter to the European commission calling for hydrogen to be included in the carbon border adjustment mechanism. “In order to avoid fossil based and highly emitting hydrogen imports, which would be similar to carbon leakage for hydrogen production, the signatories of this letter call for the inclusion of the hydrogen sector in the upcoming carbon border adjustment mechanism regulation,” reads the letter sent last week and published by Euractiv on Thursday. The letter was also signed by Portugal’s EDP, France’s McPhy, the ESB Energy for Generations Fund and the European Association for the Storage of Energy (EASE). The European Union is considering the introduction of a carbon border adjustment mechanism (CBAM) no later than 2023. The mechanism, controversial on an international scale, would impose a carbon price on imports of a list of goods from “less climate-ambitious countries.” The European Commission is expected to present its proposal next week. According to the World Bank, only 20% of global emissions are subject to carbon pricing.

France-based Hyvia, a joint venture between Renault and US hydrogen solutions company Plug Power, announced it will offer hydrogen refueling stations and a range of fuel cell-powered light commercial vehicles by the end of 2021. The assembly of fuel cells and hydrogen refueling stations at Renault’s factory in Flins, France, is expected to start in late 2021. “The products will be sold throughout Europe,” reads the note released by Renault on Thursday. Hyvia is working on a van with 12 cubic meters of cargo volume, a second van for transporting larger freight (19 cubic meters), and a bus for transporting up to 15 people.

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