Ambitious strategy: The venture is part of a longer-term vision to develop Sohar Port into a global hub for green hydrogen, which can be harnessed to power heavy industries, including steelmaking.
Sohar Port and Freezone has outlined ambitions to set up the country’s first industrial-scale green hydrogen plant at the industrial port on Oman’s Batinah coast.
The proposed project is part of a longer-term vision to develop Suhar into a global hub for this so-called ‘energy of the future’ and harness this resource as an alternative to conventional energy sources like natural gas to power heavy industries, including steelmaking.
“We have a unique opportunity to make hydrogen an important part of our clean and secure energy future,” said Mark Geilenkirchen, CEO – Sohar Port and Freezone. “We have major plans for scaling up the use of clean hydrogen with the first hydrogen plant in Oman. The idea is to make the most of our industrial port by turning it into a hub for lower cost hydrogen, replacing traditional hydrocarbons.”
Presenting Sohar Port’s renewable energy goals in a newly published white paper, Geilenkirchen said the green fuel is proposed to be produced from solar energy. “The planned facility will create carbon-free hydrogen from low-cost solar power, stored for use on demand. The hydrogen stored for later delivery (via pipelines and trailers) will be used by the port’s industries and tenants for clean transport and industrial purposes.”
Port of Rotterdam, a 50-per cent joint venture partner in Sohar Port alongside the Government of Oman, is the strategic partner in the delivery of the ‘green hydrogen’ initiative. Besides, Sohar Port is also collaborating with German energy specialist Hydrogen Rise, among other international research institutions, in the quest for “cost-competitive solutions for the adoption of hydrogen as an alternative to natural gas”, he said.
In particular, green hydrogen has the potential to decarbonise a range of heavy industries long associated with carbon emissions. Notable is the example of steel, global production of which is projected to increase by a third through to 2050, he stated.
“Hydrogen can lead towards more sustainable steelmaking,” Geilenkirchen said. “Making green steel with hydrogen could be a revolution in innovation and an option for Oman to invigorate manufacturing.”
Citing studies by an Australian research institute, he pointed out that green steel made with renewable hydrogen has the potential to become a multibillion-dollar export industry. “Similar to Australia, green steel could be built on Oman’s unique combination of competitive iron ore and renewable energy resources, matched with emerging hydrogen production. We have the potential for competitive renewable energy to really drive manufacturing, a priority sector in our diversification efforts.”
Also promising is the potential for green hydrogen as a fuel in maritime transportation, he noted. “We can accelerate efforts to find commercially viable deep sea vessels that run on zero-emission fuels such as while simultaneously optimising ship speed to minimise fuel consumption. It is clear that the time is right to tap into hydrogen’s potential to play an important role in a clean and secure energy future in Oman,” the CEO added.