The Ministry of Oil and Gas has proposed the setting up of a working group to jumpstart the development of a low-carbon and sustainable hydrogen economy in the Sultanate.
Salim bin Nasser al Aufi, Under-Secretary, said the working group, initially led by the ministry, will seek to bring together all of the stakeholders — government, academic institutions, R&D organisations, Oil & Gas operators, industries and petrochemical companies — thereby paving the way for the creation of a Hydrogen Centre or hub to spearhead the development of a hydrogen economy for the Sultanate.
The official made the announcement in closing remarks at the conclusion of the 1st Oman Hydrogen Symposium which was held on Wednesday, October 9, under the auspices of Dr Ahmed bin Mohammed al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, at the Halban campus of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech).
The daylong symposium was organised as part of the Oman Hydrogen Initiative — a joint project of GUtech and Hydrogen Rise AG of German. The initiative, first unveiled last year, seeks to serve as a platform for engagement between government and other stakeholders on the potential for igniting the growth of a future economy based on the production, storage, distribution and usage of green hydrogen in the Sultanate.
Part of a rapidly growing multi-trillion-dollar global industry, hydrogen is being increasingly adopted as fuel in power generation and other heat applications. Furthermore, as an energy carrier in fuel cells, hydrogen has promising potential for heavy duty transport applications, such as trucks, rail and ships, as well as industrial applications that require both electricity and heat.
The daylong symposium featured a series of presentations highlighting the exponential growth of hydrogen around the world as fuel and feedstock. The list of speakers included Prof Dr Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech; Dr Bernd Wiemann, CEO — Hydrogen Rise; Thomas Friedrich Schneider, Ambassador of Germany to the Sultanate; Olav Carlsen, CFO — Hydrogen Rise; Clara Orthofer of the Technical University Munich (TUM); and Dr Abdullah al Abri, Executive Director of EJAAD Oman. Experts from Germany and Japan also outlined strategies by their respective nations to decarbonise their economies by switching to renewables and hydrogen.
According to Al Aufi, hydrogen has the potential to be a game-changer for the Sultanate with beneficial ramifications similar to hydrocarbons, albeit minus the environmental impacts.
“If we go by how solar and wind energy have progressed over the last few years, I think (the adoption of hydrogen) will be much faster.
There is huge demand, based on the realisation globally that the only way we can meet the Paris Agreement on climate change is that we must decarbonise on an industrial scale. And to do that, hydrogen is probably at the centre of these efforts.”
The opportunity to create a new ecosystem in Oman around hydrogen was very exciting, the official noted. In this regard, he called on all the stakeholders to collaborate in this strategic endeavour. He challenged the key players, including R&D institutions, Oil & Gas operators and industries to study the feasibility of using hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas as fuel and feedstock. Success on this front will address the ministry’s biggest challenge: allocating gas to new applicants.
In attendance at the symposium were high-level officials representing Oman Oil and Orpic Group (the Sultanate’s integrated energy flagship), leading Oil & Gas operators, the Authority for Electricity Regulation Oman, Oman Power and Water Procurement Company (OPWP), Sultan Qaboos University (SQU), The Research Council, EJAAD, and a host of organisations from the academic, industrial and energy domains.