The Gulf nations are rapidly positioning themselves as key players in the global green hydrogen supply chain. Hydrogen, produced using renewable electricity, holds the promise of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combatting climate change.
Several countries in the region, including the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Oman, are making significant strides in green hydrogen production. However, it is Oman that stands out as a leader in this emerging industry.
Oman’s vast, high-quality renewable energy resources, coupled with extensive available land, make it an ideal candidate for large-scale, low-emission hydrogen production. The International Energy Agency’s report, “Renewable Hydrogen from Oman: A Producer Economy in Transition,” underscores Oman’s immense potential to attract investments, diversify its revenue streams, and expand its exports of clean hydrogen. By 2030, Oman aims to produce one million tons of hydrogen annually, a figure projected to reach 3.75 million tons by 2040 and a substantial 8.5 million tons annually by 2050.
The primary markets for green hydrogen exports from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations are the burgeoning Asian and European markets. Oman is poised to become a major supplier, not only of green hydrogen but also of green ammonia. According to the IEA, the European market, in particular, has high expectations for Oman’s green hydrogen production capacity. Europe looks to the GCC, and specifically Oman, as a reliable partner for fulfilling its green hydrogen needs.
Oman’s strategic advantage is further solidified by its geographic location. Unlike other GCC nations, Oman does not need to route its exports through the Strait of Hormuz. The nation’s stability and positive relations with Europe contribute to its appeal as a trusted partner for hydrogen exports.
This dynamic shift toward green hydrogen raises exciting possibilities for the GCC. Oman’s approach is not viewed as a threat by its regional counterparts; instead, it is seen as an opportunity for collaboration. Other GCC countries may seize this chance to integrate Oman’s hydrogen strategy and encourage substantial investments.
Yet, this emerging industry also demands careful planning. As world demand for green hydrogen grows, the producing nations should work together to ensure there is no shortage. Dr. Aseel A. Takshe, an associate professor at the Canadian University Dubai, highlights the necessity of a national or GCC Regional Hydrogen Strategy. This framework would enable countries to define their production goals, assess support requirements, and establish a framework for private entities to invest in green hydrogen. A comprehensive master plan is essential to ensure all elements align harmoniously.
The GCC’s existing infrastructure, including port logistics, methanol and ammonia plants, positions it as an ideal hub for green fuels. Analysts believe the region should focus on developing a national strategy, building a business case, launching pilot projects, and creating a supportive policy, regulatory, and investment framework over the next few years to harness the benefits of green energy production fully. Raising awareness among consumers about hydrogen products is another crucial aspect to address.
Dr. Umud Shokri, a senior energy analyst, emphasizes the potential of the GCC in the burgeoning hydrogen-based energy industry. Green hydrogen will play a pivotal role in a carbon-free future, and the GCC, with its abundant solar energy resources, is well-placed to enter the market. Overcoming transportation challenges, such as the cost of moving green hydrogen to Asia and Europe, will be essential. Shokri suggests that GCC producers explore the production of green ammonia from green hydrogen, a strategy that could significantly enhance their market presence.
As the Gulf nations embark on a journey towards green hydrogen production, they not only position themselves as significant players in the evolving hydrogen landscape but also make substantial contributions to global efforts to reduce emissions and combat climate change.