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Egypt plans waste-to-hydrogen plant while IRENA expresses concerns

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An Egyptian port authority has given preliminary approval to H2 Industries for development of an innovative waste-to-hydrogen hub. The proposed project is one of several targeted at North Africa and the Middle East.

H2 Industries has been granted preliminary approval by the General Authority for the Suez Canal Economic Zone for development of an innovative 1 GW hydrogen hub at East Port Said. The hydrogen plant is scheduled to be fed with 4mn t/y of organic waste and non-recyclable plastic secured at the Mediterranean entrance to the canal.

The Suez Canal project is said to be the first of its kind in the world and is estimated to cost $3bn to produce 300,00 t/y of green hydrogen. Production is claimed to be half the levelised cost of current green hydrogen technologies, and lower than current costs for low carbon blue hydrogen (from natural gas) or grey hydrogen (using nuclear energy) production, says H2 Industries.

Michael Stusch, Executive Chairman of H2 Industries, says the company is poised to undertake several projects which will convert organic waste, including plastic, agricultural waste or sewage sludge into hydrogen. The hydrogen can be transported into a carrier fluid called LOHC, which can be transported and used to fill storage tanks, much like diesel but without any associated carbon emissions. The waste heat from the process can be used to generate power using steam turbines and generators.

In the closed-cycle process, LOHC derived from organic and plastic waste is hydrogenated in an exothermic process at 30–50 bar using specially developed catalysts. Hydrogen is then released when it passes through a dehydrogenation reactor in an endothermic reaction. The LOHC is not consumed, but reused many times.

The Port Said project aligns with the Egyptian government’s goal to increase the proportion of new and renewable energy sources from around 20% in 2022 to about 40% by 2035. Meanwhile, negotiations on waste-to-energy projects are underway by H2 Industries with the UAE and several African countries, reports
Arab News.

However, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has expressed concerns that rapid growth of the global hydrogen economy could bring ‘significant geoeconomics and geopolitical shifts’ to global trade and bilateral energy relations – giving rise to a wave of new interdependencies. A new report:
Geopolitics of the energy transformation: The hydrogen factor, published in January, warns that hydrogen could change the geography of energy trade and regionalise energy relations.

The report hints at the emergence of new centres of geopolitical influence as traditional oil and gas trades decline. Driven by climate change urgency and increasing commitments to net zero, IRENA estimates that hydrogen will account for up to 12% of global energy use by 2050. Though this figure is significantly lower than the IEA’s
Net Zero by 2050 Scenario.

‘Hydrogen is clearly riding on the renewable energy revolution, with green hydrogen emerging as a game changer for achieving carbon neutrality… But hydrogen is not a new oil. And the transition is not a fuel replacement but a shift to a new system with political, technical, environmental and economic disruptions,’ commented Francesco La Camera, Director of Irena on a
Twitter blog.

H2 molecule 
Photo: Shutterstock

News Item details

Journal title: Energy World

Region: Middle East|Africa

Subjects: Hydrogen, Renewable energy,

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