The large-scale facility, in which ACWA Power is partnering with Air Products, will despatch 600 tonnes of green hydrogen per day – enough to power 20,000 buses, or abate 5m tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2).

The project’s 2.2GW electrolysers will be fed by 4GW of renewable energy, and it aims to produce 1.2 million tonnes of green hydrogen-based ammonia annually.

“We now can show what’s really possible and we are confident to multiply that,” said Paddy Padmanathan, Vice-Chairman and CEO of ACWA Power, speaking on a panel at the Dii Desert Energy Leadership Summit in Cairo (November 3-5), announcing the start of the project’s construction. 

“We have already started work on a similar-sized project in Oman and embarked on one in Egypt. On the renewable energy front, we are busy developing projects that are typically 2GW. The volume of activity is such that, as capacity and technology expands, industrial capacity is located in these countries – and that’s starting to happen.”

He said it was able to take advantage of the MENA region’s abundant solar and wind energy, land availability, political stability and credit references, to attract capital investments required. ACWA Power has a market capitalisation of $35bn.

Cornelius Matthes, CEO Dii Desert Energy, expects a “massive acceleration” in the next few years – saying its hydrogen projects have risen from 37 to 61 – as a result of falling prices, improving technologies, and convergence of several factors which will hasten development.

“Hydrogen can become the new oil and gas,” he said. “Egypt can generate more revenues from hydrogen than gas in the mid term, and we see a lot of projects coming. The Suez can be the ‘centre of gravity’ locally and internationally.”

Katherina Reiche, Chairwoman of the Board of Westenergie AG  and Chairwoman of the National Hydrogen Council of the German Government, presented a slide showing the targets for hydrogen in Europe’s largest economy. She said the goal was to produce hydrogen at $1 per kilogram by 2025. 

She said, “The European Commission should decide to not only have state aid not just for CAPEX but also OPEX investment. In future we have to combine different subsidies. It’s now time to go for the investments, and we need better regulations which make it possible to invest much faster. The Inflation Reduction Act shows what political decisions can make.”

The cheapest way to transport molecules is by pipeline, she said, adding that it was possible to use 85% of existing infrastructure. “Neither Germany nor the continent will have the capacity to produce all the hydrogen which is needed.”

Andreas Beckers, Country CEO and Executive Board Member, thyssenkrupp Uhde Egypt, said the level of partnerships demonstrates that the transition is happening.

“We have a tremendous task to transfer to Net-Zero, and we announced in September to invest in steel production in Duisburg which will avoid emissions of 3.5 million tonnes annually,” he said.

“In this group, we have the synergy – not only on the demand, production side, but the technologies that have been developed over many decades. COP27 will showcase many of the actions undertaken, which are the role models for future solutions. We have the triangle of demand, supply and infrastructure.”