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The UAE and Hydrogen its power revolution

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Industrialists the world over say the gas can become a crucial part of the global energy mix – and faster than many people might imagine

UAE in prime position as hydrogen power revolution accelerates

By Satish Kumar / The National.

Updated: February 28, 2019.

Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell car the Mirai. Such vehicles may power a sea-change in the use of the gas.

An energy source that can power everything from mass transport by land, sea and air to heavy industry, that does no harm to the environment and is practically limitless sounds like an ecologist’s Utopian dream.

But it’s no dream – and the revolution is already underway. Its name? Hydrogen – the most abundant element in the universe.

Industrialists the world over say the gas can become a crucial part of the global energy mix – and faster than many people might imagine. “I think the real test is when will the man in the street starts to recognise that hydrogen is part of the energy mix,” Ronnie Chalmers, vice president of the French industrial gases’ supplier Air Liquide’s Africa, Middle East and India hub, tells The National. “I think that will come before 2030, at different places and different times around the world.”

Ronnie Chalmers. Chris Whiteoak/The National

The Hydrogen Council says that by 2030 the gas will be a significant energy player with millions of hydrogen-powered vehicles on the road. Launched at the World Economic Forum 2017, in Davos, Hydrogen Council founders include Air Liquide, Toyota, BMW, Alstom and Airbus, among other big names.

The council believes the hydrogen sector will carry similar financial weight to the hydrocarbons industry with revenues worth some $2.5 trillion annually by 2050 and jobs for more than 30 million people globally. By comparison, the oil and gas market had total revenues of $1.97tn worldwide in 2017, according to BusinessWire’s Global Oil & Gas Industry Guide 2013-2017.

The council’s view may be a little optimistic, Robin Mills, the chief executive of the consultancy Qamar Energy, and author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis, tells The National. “Oil today is a $2.2tn business, gas say $0.5tn, coal $0.8tn,” he says. “So $2.5tn for hydrogen looks like a stretch. But it could certainly be a very major business.”

The mass implementation of hydrogen as a transport power source is already taking place. Hydrogen fuel cells power electric forklift trucks around the world and helps businesses such as Amazon, Ikea and others increase their production hours and reduce operating costs. The fuel cells do not need recharging like traditional battery-powered forklifts – hydrogen powered forklifts can be fully fuelled in under five minutes.

Hydrogen has been used in industry for decades such as in refining, treating metals and food processing but it is the acceleration of renewable energy that has spurred the multinationals’ interest – and Air Liquide sees the UAE as an ideal destination to further the hydrogen cause.

As a pioneer in renewable energy, particularly solar, the Emirates is committed to developing its green energy economy and, in part, this is why Air Liquide recently undertook a study in collaboration with Al Futtaim Toyota – which distributes Toyota’s hydrogen-powered Mirai vehicle in the UAE – and Khalifa University to look at strategies to grow the hydrogen industry here.

This month, the first solar-driven hydrogen electrolysis facility in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region was inaugurated in Dubai.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and chairman of the Expo 2020 Dubai Higher Committee, broke ground on the project, a collaboration between Dubai Electricity and Water Authority, Expo 2020 Dubai and Siemens. It will be built at Dewa’s outdoor testing facilities in the Research and Development Centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, state media agency WAM reported.

Mr Chalmers adds that the UAE has all the right ambitions regarding decarbonisation in the economy and “it was easy for us to say to Al Futtaim, ‘You have the same problem as us, you have the product, you need somebody to build fuel stations, we need somebody to market the cars'”.

A Toyota Mirai hydrogen-powered car. Reuters

Speaking at a press event in December to showcase hydrogen mass transport potential, Saud Abbasi, managing director of Al Futtaim Toyota, said: “In our next chapter, and in line with the UAE Vision 2021, we believe that Mirai [hydrogen fuel cell-electric vehicle] and any other FCEV in the future, once adopted on a large national scale, can actively help the UAE in its march towards serious climate action thanks to the many practical benefits it presents such as zero pollutants, zero behavioural change, long mileage and minimal hydrogen filling time of three to five minutes.”

So far, Al Futtaim in partnership with Air Liquide has opened a hydrogen station, the first in the Middle East, at Al Badia, Dubai Festival City. A second station is set to start construction this year in Masdar City, in collaboration with Adnoc, Masdar and Al Futtaim.

Hydrogen refilling station in Al Badia. Reem Mohammed/The National

Air Liquide is also pushing the use of renewables as a source of hydrogen.

“The ultimate goal is to have 100 per cent green hydrogen – the definition of green hydrogen is that it comes from green energy. This could be solar, wind, biogas,” says Olivier Boucat, head of Air Liquide’s H2 Mobility unit.

Olivier Boucat. Chris Whiteoak/The National

The company admits it is not at that stage yet. Today, Air Liquide uses a mix of green and “brown” hydrogen – where methane sourced from coal or natural gas is processed to release hydrogen – producing a lot of CO2 as a byproduct.

But it aims to rapidly ramp up its share of green hydrogen produced by using water electrolysis and renewable sources of electricity, such as solar in the UAE, which does not emit CO2. In January, Air Liquide announced it had acquired an 18.6 per cent stake in Canadian company Hydrogenics Corporation for $20 million, which makes electrolysis hydrogen production equipment and fuel cells.

Electrolysis works by passing electricity through water which splits it into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is collected, transported and stored either in gas form or as a liquid super-chilled to minus 253°C – which, incidentally, is the form in which it is used to power space rockets. The oxygen can be used in other industrial processes.

Toyota’s Mirai has an electric motor over the front wheels, fuel cell under the front seats and a high pressure hydrogen tank beneath the rears. Courtesy Toyota

To power a car, for example, the hydrogen runs from the fuel tank into a fuel cell, where it re-combines with oxygen from the air, producing energy as electricity, rather than explosive energy as in an internal combustion engine. The resulting electricity is released in a controlled manner to power the engine, the same kind of engine an electric battery car uses.

But there is another significant difference between an electric battery vehicle and an FCEV.

“The heavier the car is the more energy it consumes,” says Pascal Schvester, Air Liquide’s director of the Middle East and India Industrial Merchant unit. A high-end electric vehicle (EV) today needs about 700kg of battery, which is maybe a third of the weight of the vehicle, he says. “That is something you do not have with a hydrogen fuel cell car – in which you have, say, 6kg of hydrogen.”

Pascal Schvester. Chris Whiteoak/The National

Currently, however, green hydrogen is prohibitively expensive to produce. But as countries move away from hydrocarbons as a fuel, economies of scale will bring the price down. “At the moment it’s better to have a large facility and then transport the hydrogen as a gas but when the volumes get big enough it will be better to transport as a liquid,” says Mr Boucat.

“This is happening already in California; we are just commissioning the first liquid hydrogen plant to provide liquid hydrogen to a station.”

With construction to start later this year, at a cost to build of around $150m, the plant will have the capacity to generate nearly 30 tonnes of hydrogen per day – enough to fuel 35,000 hydrogen-powered vehicles. The facility is designed to accelerate the deployment of new hydrogen FCEVs – cars and fleet vehicles such as taxis, trucks and buses and trams, as is happening in Europe.

However, hydrogen’s cost as a fuel is unlikely to reach commercial parity with petrol, diesel or electric battery power, although price is not likely to be the determining factor for its uptake, according to Mr Mills. “I think hydrogen will always be more expensive than petrol or diesel, but the reasons for its adoption would be that it’s zero-carbon, clean at the point of use, and (potentially) indefinitely renewable. The question is whether it can compete cost-wise with electric vehicles which are improving rapidly.

“Hydrogen’s at quite an immature stage, so this really depends on how much support it gets to build scale and bring down costs.”

Mr Mills says that the large-scale vehicle sector is most suited to hydrogen as a transport fuel. “Probably it will have to find its role in long-distance, heavy-duty transport like trucks, rail, shipping and perhaps aviation,” he says.

However, the more down-to-earth fleet vehicle sector is Air Liquide’s main focus in the UAE. “We’re not targeting the super cars like Jeremy Clarkson might drive on Top Gear,”says Mr Boucat, but he says “the aeroplane would be the last goal for us”.

Air Liquide’s Mr Schvester also points out that regarding fleets “you don’t need to have a massive network of hydrogen filling stations because in this case you are dealing with vehicles that are commuting from one place to the other on a fixed basis” so fuelling stations can be centralised.

Globally, Japan is generally seen as the leader so far in hydrogen take-up. The country’s Basic Hydrogen Strategy, released in December, 2017, reiterated its commitment to pioneer the world’s first “Hydrogen Society”. The strategy primarily aims to achieve cost parity of hydrogen with competing fuels, such as petrol in transport and Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) in power generation.

“By 2030 Japan will start to import hydrogen in liquid form to produce energy for various applications in the country,” says Mr Boucat. “When we reach that point we are at a very large scale.”

Last month, South Korea announced a major investment plan to go the same way. By 2040, the country aims to increase the cumulative total of fuel cell vehicles to 6.2 million, raise the number of hydrogen refuelling stations to 1,200 (from just 14 today) and also boost the supply of power-generating fuel cells.

Through these measures, the government hopes to create 420,000 jobs and $38.35 billion in value added to the economy each year by 2040.

China now invests about 100bn yuan a year (Dh54.09bn) in hydrogen energy, according to Professor Zong Qiang Mao of Tsinghua University’s Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology, who adds that the country has the capacity to produce about 170,000 FCEVs per year. It’s likely to become a huge market. “I predict that in about 10 years we will also be the largest market in the world for hydrogen energy,” Mr Zong told cH2ange, an organisation dedicated to promoting the hydrogen economy and which is supported by Air Liquide.

Germany in September opened its 50th hydrogen filling station. With the ramp-up of the number of fuel cell vehicles, another 300 hydrogen refuelling stations are planned over the next two or three years.

In Paris, the Societe du Taxi Electrique Parisien has a total of 100 hydrogen-powered vehicles in its fleet, and is aiming to have 600 such vehicles by 2020. In the UK, meanwhile, the government announced last year police cars and taxis will be among nearly 200 new hydrogen powered vehicles as part of a project that has won £8.8m (Dh42.4m) in funding from the Department for Transport to increase the number of hydrogen cars on the roads.

Air Liquide believes such developments are just the start.

“I think within a few years we’ll see more [hydrogen-powered] trains, taxis, buses and trucks and the man in the street will think, ‘ah yes, it’s just another hydrogen vehicle,'” says Mr Chalmers.

“We got used to LNG trucks, we’re getting used to EVs and next will be hydrogen.”

For over a Century of Burning Fossil Fuels

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For over a century of burning fossil fuels, to propel our cars, power our businesses, and keep the lights on in our homes, we never envisioned that we will paying this price.

The picture above for illustration purpose is of New Algerian Refinery in Hassi Messaoud by Forbes.

Even today and despite all that, oil, coal, and gas provide about a lot of our energy needs but we are gradually aware that:

Using fossil fuels has an enormous toll on humanity and the environment—from air and water pollution to global warming and certainly the COVID-19. That’s not taking the negative impacts of petroleum-based products such as plastics and chemicals.

And all agree that it’s time to move toward a clean energy future. In recent years, the divest movement from fossil fuels has grown to a multi-trillion dollar movement involving more than 350 institutions worldwide. And thanks to stricter policies to address the climate crisis, fossil fuels are gradually becoming yesterday’s energy source. Since 2016, renewable power is slowly replacing fossil fuels usage at all levels.

In the meantime, it looks as if the following is ongoing as per local media.

Oil exporters face $13TN worth of lost revenue to energy transition by 2040

Around 400 million people could see their livelihoods affected as a result of lower revenues from declining fossil fuel sales

Several Middle Eastern exporters such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia have already set in motion efforts to diversify their rentier economies.. Getty

Oil-exporting countries stand to lose nearly $13 trillion in revenue by 2040 as global economies continue to decarbonise their power systems, according to a report by Carbon Tracker.

As countries around the world lower their carbon footprint and energy companies set net-zero emissions targets over the coming decades oil exporting economies will face an existential crisis.

Around 40 oil exporters surveyed by the UK-based think tank will require $9tn to bridge the gap in income shortfalls amid structural changes in energy consumption.

Around 400 million people could see their livelihoods affected as a result of lower revenues from declining fossil fuel sales. The most affected will be oil exporters based in Africa. Nigeria, the continent’s biggest producer, will be the hardest hit as a 70 per cent drop in oil revenues will slash government income by a third. Angola, a southern African country will also stand to lose over 40 per cent of government revenue, endangering the standard of living of nearly 33 million people.

“Government oil revenues will shift dramatically as the market shakes out during the energy transition,” said Andrew Grant, the head of climate, energy and industry and a co-author of the report.

The key to tackling the looming crisis for populations living in oil-exporting nations would be to understand the scale of the challenge.

“Cushioning the landing for hundreds of millions will deliver better outcomes for both climate and human development,” he added.

An orderly drawdown of fossil fuel production would prevent a hard landing for populations living in producer economies, while quick monetisation of resources and oversupply is likely to destroy value for crude, the report said.

Several Middle Eastern exporters such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia have already set in motion efforts to diversify their rentier economies. The UAE derives revenues from tourism and manufacturing and is looking to generate three quarters of its electricity from clean sources by 2050.

Abu Dhabi also has a substantial renewable energy industry, which has recently pivoted towards the production of hydrogen. The country’s leading industrial and financial players, including the national oil company, formed an alliance earlier this year to manufacture hydrogen.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of crude, is undertaking plans for a multibillion dollar, carbon-neutral city, as it plans to phase out fossil fuels from its utilities and become an exporter for hydrogen.

Mexico, Iran and Russia are vulnerable and could lose up to a fifth of their revenues.

Angola and Azerbaijan could see a hit to 40 per cent of government income from oil. However, Norway and Malaysia, which have diversified economies, are less exposed to energy transition risks and will face losses of up to 5 to 10 per cent of crude income.Published: February 11, 2021 06:34 PM


In 2021, expect to see a renewables revolution


OPEC Member Calls for Change

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The above image is for illustration and is of Reuters.

Natureworldnews.com post on how an OPEC Member calls for Change and urges Oil Producers to invest more in Renewable Energy is written by Rain Jordan.
Let us see what it is all about.

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OPEC Member Calls for Change, Urges Oil Producers to Invest More on Renewable Energy

Before a critical Opec conference, Iraq’s finance minister, one of the founding members of the global oil cartel Opec, issued an unusual plea to fellow oil producers to shift away from fossil fuel reliance and toward renewable energy.

(Photo : Getty Images)

Ali Allawi, Iraq’s deputy prime minister, urged oil producers to seek “an economic rejuvenation based on ecologically sound policies and technology,” such as solar electricity and even nuclear reactors, to lessen their reliance on fossil fuel exports.ADVERTISING

“To stand a chance of minimizing the worst consequences of climate change, the world has to radically transform the way it produces and uses energy, burning less coal, oil, and natural gas,” he wrote alongside Fatih Birol, executive director of the International Energy Agency. Livelihoods would be lost, and poverty rates will rise if oil earnings begin to fall before producer countries have properly diversified their economies.”

OPEC Meeting

Ministers from the 13 Opec member states will meet virtually on Wednesday to discuss possible output cuts as oil prices fluctuate. Opec had agreed to raise output as nations recovered from the Covid-19 epidemic, but sluggish markets have led some to propose that the rise be halted.

Last month, US President Joe Biden made a contentious appeal for Opec to raise oil output, even more, keep oil prices from increasing and help the US economy recover. But, unfortunately, his appeal was turned down.

Fuel Step Up

(Photo : Pixabay)

In an unprecedented step for the fossil fuel companies, the Opec summit may also address the climate problem ahead of the crucial UN climate negotiations, known as Cop26, set for Glasgow in November.

According to Allawi and Birol, current oil price instability, fueled by the pandemic, is merely the beginning of troubles for producers. The climate issue will not only need a shift away from oil, but it will also have a particularly negative impact on the Middle East and North Africa, where increasing temperatures are already causing severe problems.

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) recent global roadmap to net-zero by 2050, global oil demand is expected to fall from more than 90 million barrels per day to fewer than 25 million barrels per day by 2050, resulting in a potential 85 percent drop in revenues for oil-producing economies.

Economic Turmoil

According to Allawi and Birol, economic hardship and rising unemployment risk causing greater discontent and instability in a region with one of the world’s youngest and fastest-growing populations.

Investing in renewables, particularly solar electricity, is an alternative to dependent on increasingly volatile oil prices. They added, “The energy industry might play a role here by utilizing the region’s tremendous potential for generating and supplying clean energy.”

Iraq is a founding member of the cartel, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Venezuela, Nigeria, and several other African oil-producing countries. In addition, Russia and a few minor producers are included in the Opec+ alliance.

Most have been antagonistic to demands for action on climate change, while some have dismissed climate science, and Saudi Arabia, in particular, has often obstructed UN climate discussions.

Paris Agreement

The International Energy Agency (IEA) cautioned in May that if the world remains below 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels, as laid forth in the Paris Agreement – to which all Opec members are signatories – all new oil drilling must end this year.

When asked about the findings, Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, said at an Opec meeting in June, “I would have to voice my perspective that I feel it is a sequel to [the] La La Land movie…” But, “What makes you think I should take it seriously?”

Oil Productions

(Photo : Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Saudi officials have toyed with climate action in the past, claiming, for example, that the nation might eventually power itself with solar energy. However, no one has urged that oil shipments be halted.

Some oil producers, on the other hand, have chosen a more dovish attitude. For example, Oman, no longer an Opec member, looks at hydrogen as a future low-carbon fuel. The UAE also focuses on hydrogen and renewable energy and has just opened a new nuclear power plant. Other nations in the area with significant renewable energy programs include Egypt, Morocco, and Jordan.

“More than at any other time in history, significant adjustments to the economic model in resource-rich nations are unavoidable,” Birol, one of the world’s leading energy economists, told the Guardian. Countries in the region have made energy transition initiatives. There are encouraging attempts [among oil producers], but attaining net-zero emissions would need far bolder steps and much larger international coordination, as it has for many other nations across the world.”

Read more: LNG Exports from Australia to China Hits Record Breaking Numbers

Related Article: Entirety of Europe Could Face a Staggering Natural Gas Crisis This Winter

How humanity has reached a ‘code red’ climate emergency

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Arabian Business‘ post on the GCC of all countries of the MENA region are taking action for a sustainable future because of how humanity having reached a ‘code red’ climate emergency. Here it is.

How humanity has reached a ‘code red’ climate emergency

The good news is that there is still a sliver of hope to help communities respond to this threat through well-informed, solid and sustained actions.

The recently published report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) describes unprecedented environmental changes as “irreversible for centuries to millennia”.

However, the good news is that there is still a sliver of hope to help communities respond to this threat through well-informed, solid and sustained actions.

Like the rest of the world, countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) have started experiencing climate change first-hand with sparse rainfall, arid terrain, and high temperatures. Thus, its governments moved to adapt their climate change policies.

For example, Saudi Arabia launched the Saudi Green Initiative which aims to increase the kingdom’s reliance on clean energy, and combat climate change. Bloomberg Green reported earlier this year that Saudi Arabia is building a $5 billion solar and wind-powered plant to be among the world’s biggest green hydrogen makers when it opens in the planned megacity of Neom in 2025.

Meanwhile, the UAE has been undertaking many steps to control the effects of climate since the late 2000s with the establishment of Masdar in Abu Dhabi, which is currently hosting the International Renewable Energy Agency headquarters. Dubai also inaugurated the third phase of its largest solar park in the world last year, which targets a capacity of 5GW by 2030 to supply homes with clean energy and offset CO2 emissions.

Global funders of science – including philanthropy, the private sector and government agencies – have a vital role in delivering climate pledges. As we have seen with the fight against Covid-19, by focusing investments on supporting much-needed research and technology development, we can improve climate mitigation and adaptation efforts, and influence policy and identify behavioural interventions that support them. This prompts us to examine the role of privately-led science funding in the GCC in supporting climate change combat.

Research indicates that climate change directly impacts nutrition and public health. In the GCC, for example, MIT professor Elfatih Eltahir published a paper in Nature Climate Change, alongside Jeremy Pal of Loyola Marymount University, demonstrating that waves of heat and humidity in the region are likely to lead to temperature levels that are intolerable to humans. This research sounds a warning for the impact of increased urbanisation rates on livability in the GCC in the face of climate change.

The GCC can respond positively to climate change’s direct and indirect effects on communities, whether air pollution, nutrition, disease or even habitability.

With exceptions like Professor Eltahir’s study, there is little research and empirical evidence on the effects of adverse climate events on human health in the GCC region. Such research is urgently needed: Only by examining the most up-to-date and robust scientific evidence and analysis, can we understand how to tackle these challenges most effectively.

To this end, Community Jameel has partnered with AEON Collective, a leading Saudi-based sustainable development research and advocacy group, to bring together a consortium of world-leading international and local researchers in the areas of climate, food and water, and public health to inform policy recommendations in climate and health in the GCC.

This includes scientists from two research centres Community Jameel has founded at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT): the Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS), which catalyses research and innovation at MIT to find solutions to urgent global water and food systems challenges; and the Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), whose co-founders – Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee – received the 2019 Nobel Prize in Economics for their experimental approach to tackling global poverty, and where the J-PAL King Climate Action Initiative is generating evidence on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of technological and policy innovations at the intersection of climate and poverty.

In order to bridge the gap between academia, policymakers and the private sector in the GCC, the consortium will draw on the expertise of researchers at J-WAFS and J-PAL, as well as local and other international institutions, to identify solutions, provide technical guidance, and improve our understanding of the complexity behind the policy changes required to implement science-based solutions in the region.

By strengthening the region’s climate resilience, the GCC can respond positively to climate change’s direct and indirect effects on communities, whether air pollution, nutrition, disease or even habitability. There is also an opportunity to capitalise on the strategic opportunities presented by the shift to a lower-carbon and resource-constrained economy.

We hope that this collaborative effort will galvanise further funding of research in – and for – the GCC and the specific challenges posed by climate change to the health of all of us living in this region.

Qatar tops MENA region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021

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Gulf Times of today informs that Qatar tops the MENA region in World Economic Forum’s Energy Transition Index 2021. It could be treated at face value not as a self-indulging pat in the back but rather as a realistic assessment of the situation of the small peninsula endowed with the ginormous reserves of Gas that is opting for a Green Energy strategy. But would this ‘Green’ Energy Strategy work for Qatar? Let us see what Pratap John has to say.

The picture above is for illustration and is of Consultancy-me.com

Qatar tops MENA region in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021

Qatar also leads the global rankings on the economic development and growth component of the ETI, supported by the strong role played by domestic energy sector in the economy

Qatar has topped the Middle East and North Africa region, securing 53rd rank in WEF’s Energy Transition Index 2021.

Qatar also leads the global rankings on the economic development and growth component of the ETI, supported by the strong role played by domestic energy sector in the economy.

However, this also poses challenges that are common to all resource rich countries. As more and more countries embark on their net zero journeys, the demand for medium term demand for fossil fuels is expected to decline, which might create economic growth challenges for resource dependent countries. The dip in oil and gas demand, and resulting price volatilities, during the Covid-19 pandemic are a cogent reminder of the need to diversify the economy to limit exposure to fossil fuels.

Creating a robust enabling environment, backed by a stable long-term roadmap, strong political commitment, investments in low carbon energy value chain, and supporting reskilling of labour, will be critical in this process. Moreover, Qatar can leverage the existing resource base and legacy infrastructure to create opportunities in the new energy landscape – for example by investing in capacity to localise processing and manufacturing of higher value add products in the fossil fuel value chain, and by supporting innovation and infrastructure development for green hydrogen.

The United Arab Emirates secured itself an impressive global top ten rank in 12 indicators of the report Fostering Effective Energy Transition 2021, which was released by the World Economic Forum.

In its 10th edition, the report, published in collaboration with Accenture, believes that as countries continue their progress in transitioning to clean energy, it is critical to root the transition in economic, political and social practices to ensure progress is irreversible.

The report draws on insights from the Energy Transition Index (ETI) 2021, which benchmarks 115 countries on the current performance of their energy systems across the three dimensions of the energy triangle: economic development and growth, environmental sustainability, and energy security and access indicators – and their readiness to transition to secure, sustainable, affordable, and inclusive energy systems.

This year’s report uses a revised ETI methodology, which takes into account recent changes in the global energy landscape and the increasing urgency of climate change action.

Globally, Sweden (1) leads the ETI for the fourth consecutive year, followed by Norway (2) and Denmark (3).

Regionally, Qatar ranks first, followed by the UAE and Morocco, while Saudi Arabia remains 8th among its Arab neighbours.

Overall, scores in the Middle East and North Africa fell last year but the overall trajectory remains moderately positive. Heavy reliance on oil revenue continues to present challenges to sustainable growth. Diversification of the economy and the energy system can improve prospects. Challenges remain in access and security, with a heavy concentration in primary energy sources.

Several countries in the region have set out ambitious renewables targets for 2030.

For this region, WEF noted the coming decade presents opportunities to invest in an energy transition that can unlock significant cross-system benefits.

“As we enter into the decade of action and delivery on climate change, the focus must also encompass speed and resilience of the transition. With the energy transition moving beyond the low hanging fruit, sustained incremental progress will be more challenging due to the evolving landscape of risks to the energy transition,” said Roberto Bocca, head (Energy and Materials) at the World Economic Forum.

The results for 2021 show that 92 out of 115 countries tracked on the ETI increased their aggregate score over the past 10 years, which affirms the positive direction and steady momentum of the global energy transition.

Strong improvements were made on the Environmental Sustainability and Energy Access and Security dimensions. Eight out of the 10 largest economies have pledged net-zero goals by mid-century. The annual global investment in the energy transition surpassed $500bn for the first time in 2020, despite the pandemic.

The number of people without access to electricity has declined to less than 800mn, compared to 1.2bn people 10 years ago (2010).

Increasing renewable energy capacity has in particular helped energy importing countries achieve simultaneous gains on environmental sustainability and energy security.

However, the results also show that only 10% of the countries were able to make steady and consistent gains in their aggregate ETI score over the past decade.

“A resilient and just energy transition that delivers sustainable, timely results will require systemwide transformation, including reimagining how we live and work, power our economies and produce and consume materials,” said Muqsit Ashraf, the senior managing director who leads Accenture’s energy practice.

Pratap John