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UAE plans to use nuclear energy to power hydrogen production

Abu Dhabi's hydrogen alliance is assessing several international partnerships

The UAE has plans to power its hydrogen production using nuclear energy, even as it assesses partnership opportunities with international players, says a senior official at ADQ.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Company, which is part of the portfolio of holding company ADQ, could supply power to produce hydrogen.

"Enec will have an integral role as a baseload provider of power that is considered clean energy," ADQ investment director Hamad Al Hammadi said during an online panel organised by the US-UAE Business Council.

The UAE, which accounts for nearly 4.2 per cent of global crude output, has ambitious plans to tap into the potential of hydrogen – a clean fuel source touted to help countries slash emissions. Earlier this year, state holding company ADQ formed an alliance with Mubadala Investment Company and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company to develop export capabilities for hydrogen.

Solar energy will also be tapped for the production of green hydrogen, which is produced from renewable sources. However, nuclear energy provides a consistent, round-the-clock baseload for power generation, Mr Al Hammadi said.

"It's a long programme where we want to make sure that we leverage on it, and this gives us access to a hydrogen that can be sold and exported internationally," he said.

Hydrogen produced from nuclear power is sometimes referred to as pink hydrogen.

The element has "the highest potential to become the clean energy source going forward", Mubadala's Badr Al Olama told the panel.

"Cracking the code on green hydrogen" in the UAE could contribute to the creation of thousands of jobs in a new sector, he added.

"Green hydrogen could reach 530 million tonnes by 2050, displacing 10.5 billion barrels of oil."

Globally, the hydrogen industry is expected to grow to $183bn by 2023, from $129bn in 2017, according to Fitch Solutions. French investment bank Natixis estimates that investments in hydrogen will exceed $300bn through to 2030.

The UAE Cabinet on Sunday approved a nationwide system for hydrogen vehicles, as the country ramps up production of blue and green variants of the fuel.

Mubadala and Italy's Snam also signed an agreement this week to collaborate on the "joint investment and development" of hydrogen.

The ADQ-Mubadala-Adnoc hydrogen alliance "is already actively assessing several international partnerships", said ADQ's Mr Al Hammadi.

"We're looking for [the] best fit in terms of technology R&D and execution capability, as well as end-product uptake," he added.

The alliance's partners are currently in the process of developing a roadmap for the development of hydrogen in Abu Dhabi.

"We still welcome any contact from companies that feel they can contribute to our goals," said Mr Al Hammadi.

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