Under the patronage of His Excellency Dr. Ahmed bin Mohammed Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications in Oman, the ‘1st OMAN Hydrogen Symposium’, was held at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) today, Wednesday 9 October. The Symosium was organised by the OMAN Hydrogen Initiative, founded by GUtech and the German company Hydrogen Rise AG. The Symposium was supported by the Ministry of Oil and Gas in Oman and by His Excellency Salim bin Nasser bin Said Al-Aufi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Oil and Gas. During the half-day Symposium experts from the Sultanate of Oman and abroad discussed the potential of green hydrogen as a new energy carrier for the Sultanate. As the global demand for hydrogen is expected to increase in future, experts predict significant export opportunities for Oman. The OMAN Hydrogen Symposium has presented initial research results and has offered proposals for further action including the establishment of a ‘Hydrogen Competence Center’.
Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech welcomed the audience to this 1st OMAN Hydrogen Symposium. The symposium was divided into three parts: opportunities and challenges for Oman, the international trends and developments including case studies from Japan and Germany as well as future plans of the OMAN Hydrogen Initiative. On the side lines of the Symposium GUtech BSc Environmental Engineering students presented their research on the ‘Potential of Bio-hydrogen Production in Oman’, supervised by Dr. Hind Barghash partially by Petroleum Development in Oman (PDO) and GUtech seed funding. In addition, GUtech students presented their Shell Eco-marathon hydrogen car in front of the conference hall.
H.E. Salim bin Nasser bin Said Al-Aufi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Oil and Gas said that it is a global challenge to transform the ecosystem to a hydrogen society. “There is no other way to meet the Paris Agreement and to decarbonize the industry,” he said. “The potential is huge. We would like to contribute and shape the hydrogen economy,” he said and in cooperation with different partners from the industry as well as from the academia. H.E. Thomas Friedrich Schneider, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Sultanate of Oman said that he is pleased to participate in the 1st OMAN Hydrogen Symposium. Germany is undergoing a complete restructuring of its energy sector, reducing its dependency on fossil and nuclear energy resources towards renewable energies. “This is a huge challenge.” Currently some 44 % of Germany’s energy production is generated from renewable energies. By 2050 the amount shall increase to 80-95% with the aim to protect the environment and to limit the consequences of climate change while creating new business opportunities. A National Strategy for Hydrogen will be published by the German government by the end of the year. Therefore, Germany needs green hydrogen imports. Green hydrogen is already used by German companies like Siemens. The German Ambassador stressed that there is an urgent need for further investment in research cooperations and in common standards and policies leading to a sustainable energy future worldwide.
Dr.-Ing. Bernd Wiemann, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Hydrogen Rise AG stressed in his speech that Sultanate of Oman, with its expertise in the energy sector can emerge as a major player promoting hydrogen as an alternative resource and for export while at the same time developing competencies and human resources for the new hydrogen industry.
Mr. Olav Carlsen, Chief Financial Officer and Co-Founder of Hydrogen Rise AG, spoke about the Green Hydrogen – The Global Game Changer and Significant Opportunities for Oman. “Today 18% of the energy worldwide is already supplied by renewable energies. The energy transition needs new energy carriers to decarbonize the industries worldwide. By 2050, 65% of the global energy is projected to be generated by renewable energies. By 2050 the production will increase to 500 million tons of green hydrogen compared to only 2 million green hydrogen in 2017. This energy transition will offer plenty of opportunities for local businesses. Hydrogen can be exported in a large scale while generating little CO2 emissions. According to Carlsen hydrogen is non-toxic and non-polluting, while complying with strong safety regulations. He pointed out that heavy trucks in Chile were already replaced by hydrogen trucks. In Europe and Asia hydrogen trains as well as hydrogen cars are already used for transportation. Overall it is projected that hydrogen creates ‘deep tech jobs’ while attracting energy intensive industries offering a potential for numerous carbon-free industry certifications. In her speech on the Oman Hydrogen Capacity Potential, Ms. Clara Orthofer from the Technical University Munich (TUM) in Germany spoke about the prospects of hydrogen for the local economy. “Oman’s technical electricity potential lies 136 times above the current electricity demand” while adding that the Hydrogen production potential is up to 10 times the current oil exports. For the production of hydrogen only a surface of 1 % is required and 8-17 % of Oman’s water that was generated in 2016. Dr. Abdullah Al-Abri, Executive Director of EJAAD in Oman spoke about Hydrogen: A Promising Economic Engine for Oman”. He said that “Hydrogen is an opportunity for Oman”, e.g. as a chemical feed-stock to produce ammonia and chemicals for EOR such as Dimethyl Ethel and others as well as to blend hydrogen with natural gas.” Mr. Emanuele Taibi, Analyst for Power Sector Transformation Strategies of International Renewable Energy Agency, IRENA, elaborated on Hydrogen: A Renewable Energy Prospective. Dr. Uwe Albrecht, Chief Executive Officer, Ludwig Bölkow Systemtechnik – LBST from Germany spoke about the ‘Global Trends and Developments’ while Mr. Toshiyuki Shirai, Director of Advanced Energy Systems and Structure Division – Agency for National Resources and Energy, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Japan elaborated in his speech ‘Japan – On the Way to a Hydrogen Society’ on the experience in hydrogen from Japan, one of the leading hydrogen technology nations. Mr. Holger Lösch, Deputy Director General of Federation of German Industries- BDI, Germany spoke about the ‘Energy Transition within the German Industry’ and Dr. Karoline Steinbacher, Managing Consultat, Navigant, Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy, Germany explained in her speech the ‘German Hydrogen Orientation’. The Symposium concluded with a short overview: ‘Next Steps of the OMAN Hydrogen Initiative’, outlined by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech and Dr.-Ing. Bernd Wiemann, CEO of Hydrogen Rise AG. As part of the OMAN Hydrogen Initiative actions, GUtech is to introduce a hydrogen collaboration, piloting and demonstration with different partners in the industry, government and academia while establishing a Hydrogen ‘Competence Center’ for research and development and to further on to build and operate the first green hydrogen pilot plant on campus while at the same time raising public awareness about the potential of hydrogen as a green energy carrier and industrial feedstock for many new industrial businesses in Oman. Due to the success of the Symposium, the organizers are planning to hold a second symposium with different stakeholders in future.
(c) GUtech, Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet/ Fatma Al Balushi