The MENA region is already well equipped to produce cheap, green hydrogen because of its extensive solar resources, but the fact that its steel industry is mainly focused on the use of direct-reduced iron (DRI) modules and electric-arc furnaces puts it in a unique position in terms of producing the low-carbon steel that is becoming increasingly popular in Europe as countries there strive to achieve their net-zero emissions targets.
So, being in a position to use its solar energy resources to produce green hydrogen for DRI-based steelmaking, means the MENA region is perfectly placed to supply the key steel growth market of India and service the green steel demands of countries in Europe, IEEFA said.
And, according to IEEFA and the Boston Consulting Group, the region may have invested $1 trillion in renewable energy sources by the end of 2023.
There is a strong focus on hydrogen – which is the ideal green fuel for DRI modules – in the region and MENA is expected to produce 18.15 million tonnes of hydrogen by 2030 and 28 million tonnes by 2040.
Hydrogen-compatible steel plants are being built in Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Algeria. And while those facilities will initially run on gas, they will eventually switch to running on hydrogen.
“Rather than trying to find a viable way to export green hydrogen, which looks inefficient and expensive to transport, the region should prioritize its domestic use, such as in its DRI plants,” IEEFA’s lead steel analyst Simon Nicholas said in the report.
Steelmakers around the world are already transitioning from blast furnace-based production towards DRI technology that can run on green hydrogen,” he said.
“MENA has an advantage given that its steel sector is already based on DRI, with established access to both direct reduction-grade (DR-grade) iron ore and the renewable energy resources that will allow it to produce cheap green hydrogen in the near future.”
Delivering to Europe
A low-carbon local steel industry would also give MENA a big advantage over other regions when Europe’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) comes into force.
The European Union’s CBAM entered the transition phase of its implementation on October 1 and the duties are scheduled to be applied from January 1, 2026.
Once CBAM is fully phased in, MENA-based steelmakers will have an opportunity to crowd out more carbon-intensive Asian steel producers in the European steel imports market.
In 2022, total carbon steel imports to the EU amounted to 27.07 million tonnes according to European Steel Association, Eurofer.
The main suppliers were Turkey (15.4%), South Korea (10.3%), India (9.13%) Taiwan (6.6%), Vietnam (5.4%) and Japan (5.33%), with Egypt (2.9%) the top performer from MENA.
But in 2023, Turkish deliveries to the EU have fallen because mills there have been unable to compete with Asian suppliers due to having higher production costs and being hit be anti-dumping duties. Total steel export volumes from Turkey to the EU in the first three quarters of the year amounted to just 1.50 million tonnes.
And Asian suppliers boosted their steel deliveries to the EU over the same period, with Vietnam supplying 1.50 million tonnes of carbon steel to the bloc, up from 1.46 million tonnes for the whole of 2022.
But market participants expect the implementation of CBAM to seriously limit interest in carbon-intensive steel from Asia.
And while steelmakers in South Korea and Japan are already planning to import hot-briquetted iron (HBI) from places such as the Middle East and are also planning projects that would initially use fossil gas before switching to green hydrogen as it gets cheaper, MENA steelmakers are already several steps ahead because they do not need to make substantial investments to replace their base technology, according to IEEAF.
Emphasizing the region’s focus on green initiatives, on Tuesday, Turkey’s Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EMRA) published a draft consultation on how the carbon market will operate in the country.
Iron ore, HBI exports
The MENA region’s access to high-grade iron ore is already set to increase and the leading producer of DR-grade iron ore, Vale, is planning to set up green iron “mega hubs” in the Middle East to supply iron ore pellets to co-located DRI plants to produce HBI for local consumption and export.
Imported, green HBI will be crucial to the EU’s decarbonization drive, with a number of DRI modules expected to come online as early as 2026 and MENA is ideally placed geographically to supply those needs.
Along with global decarbonization efforts, iron-ore production is expected to dislocate from steel production and shift closer to renewable energy sources.
“More iron ore will be processed in places with excellent renewable energy resources that can produce cheap green hydrogen, with the resultant iron shipped to centers of steel demand. MENA can be a global leader in the emerging green iron trade, but it faces strong competition from Australia, Brazil and Canada,” IEEFA steel analyst Soroush Basirat said.
Learn more about MENA’s role in the green steel market.
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Qatar-based Industrial Solutions leader ‘Nehmeh’ has organised the annual Mega Industrial Expo 2020 showcasing a range of the world’s leading brands in construction solutions,
The two-day event was held on February 4 and 5 at a five-star hotel in Doha where Nehmeh showcased power tools, ventilation systems, light construction tools and machinery with a focus on concrete machinery along with demonstrations to let guests have a first-hand product experience of the machines and its applications.
An important part of the event was the launch of the Qatar’s first locally manufactured ‘Roof Top Package Unit’ by Nehmeh Air Conditioners and introduction of Belgium based ‘Beton Trowel’ brand renowned for Concrete & Compaction Equipment.
The event also featured key note address by experts from Beton Trowel, Nehmeh Air Conditioners and Makita over the two days. ‘Nehmeh App’ the region’s first industrial solutions mobile app was highlighted to guests at the expo. Nehmeh, one of the leading industrial solutions providers in the GCC, represents world class brands which are leaders in their respective categories.
For over 65 years, tens of thousands of people depend on reliable industrial performance solutions by Nehmeh. This mega event succeeded in attracting visitors including retail partners, suppliers, end-users and others related to the construction industry.
Visitors also included managers from Qatar looking for solutions to improve their efficiency and productivity on sites. Brands participating at the expo were Makita, Nehmeh Air Conditioners, Stampa, SDMO, Beton Trowel, Sofy, Portacool, Koshin, Awelco, Dr. Schulze among many more. Demonstrations were held on specially prepared areas showcasing tools, equipment and machinery. Expert professionals from Singapore, Germany and Belgium presented to the audience new introductions and technologies along with an informative Q & A session.
“Nehmeh range of Industrial Solutions cover major solutions required for the Qatari construction market. This concept event has been developed keeping in mind the requirements of our customers and I am glad to say that the event has been well received by the guests over the years,” said Emil A. Nehme, Chief Executive Officer at Nehmeh.
“With the support of our partners, we have the ability to cover major construction solutions as required here in Qatar. Witnessing the popularity of such an event, we are inclined to hold more such regular events as part of our calendar of activities,” he added.
‘The Nehmeh Corporate Catalogue 2020’ was launched during the event. Awards bestowed to various partners as tribute to their efforts and achievements. In addition, four lucky visitors also walked away with reward trips, gold coins and stay vouchers.
While it has some infrastructure and regulatory obstacles to overcome, the automotive industry in the Middle East and Africa (MENA) region is developing fast, driven by investment and innovation, as delegates heard at the ALMENA conference in Dubai last week.
Despite a sustained period of decline over the last few years affected by a fall in oil prices and geopolitical strife, the Middle East and Africa is fast becoming a region of automotive and supply chain opportunity. Carmakers such as VW, Toyota, GM, Groupe PSA and Mercedes-Benz are investing in local assembly, ranging from North African countries including Morocco, Algeria and Egypt, to sub-Saharan markets such as Rwanda, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ghana. There are also some notable logistics developments there and in the Middle East.
According to figures from IHS Markit, light vehicle sales in the Middle East and Africa are to increase by 6% in 2020 to around 3.5m, supported by ongoing recovery in Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries. That is still below 4.65m units sold in 2015 but at that point Middle East sales were helped by increases in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the latter of which was seeing an (albeit brief) resurgence after sanctions were temporarily lifted. That said, by 2025 annual new light vehicle sales across the region are set to hit more than 5.3m, according to IHS projections.
Saudi Arabia already accounts for about 40% of total vehicles sold in the Middle East and IHS Markit forecasts annual sales could reach over 800,000 beyond units by 2030. Contributing factors including the recovery in price per barrel of oil and to a lesser extent the lifting of the ban on female drivers suggest sustained growth is expected to start in the next two years.
Countries within the Gulf Corporation Council (GCC) have established a national employment challenge to employ more local workers, the so-called ‘Gulfization’ policy, which is increasing labour opportunities in the area, something also fuelled by the exodus of foreign workers and the need for investment in local skills and talent.
An interesting interval notably for all those industries already devoting billions of Dollars to building these E-cars, thus affecting not only the whole world’s manufacturing and energy generation industries alike but also the planet’s climate. But this obviously not happening overnight, is somehow phased as described in this article.
Electric cars are often seen as one of the great hopes for tackling climate change. With new models arriving in showrooms, major carmakers retooling for an electric future, and a small but growing number of consumers eager to convert from gas guzzlers, EVs appear to offer a way for us to decarbonise with little change to our way of life.
Yet there is a danger that fixating on electric cars leaves a large blind spot. Electrification would be very expensive for the lumbering lorries that haul goods across continents or is currently technically prohibitive for long-distance air travel.
Beyond all the enthusiasm surrounding electrification, currently light-duty passenger vehicles only comprise 50% of total global demand for energy in the transportation sector compared to 28% for heavy road vehicles, 10% for air, 9% for sea and 2% for rail.
Put simply, the current focus on electrifying passenger vehicles – though welcome – represents only part of the answer. For most other segments, fuels will be needed for the foreseeable future. And even for cars, electric vehicles are not a cure-all.
The unfortunate truth is that, on their own, battery electric vehicles (BEVs) cannot solve what we call the “100 EJ problem”. Demand for transport services are expected to rise dramatically in the coming decades. So the International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that we need to significantly reduce the amount of energy each vehicle uses just to keep total global energy demand in the transport sector roughly flat at current levels of 100 exajoules (EJ) by 2050. More than half of that 100 EJ is still expected to come from petroleum products and, by then, the share of light-duty vehicles in transport sector energy demand is expected to decline from 50% to 34%.
The vast majority of existing passenger trips can be accommodated by existing battery electric vehicles so, for many consumers, buying one will be an easy decision (as costs come down). But for those who frequently take very long journeys, the focus also needs to be on lower-carbon fuels.
Petroleum substitutes could extend sustainable transport to heavier vehicles and those seeking longer range, while using the existing refuelling infrastructure and vehicle fleet. Whereas battery electric vehicles will impose wider system costs (for example, the charging infrastructure needed to connect millions of new electric vehicles to the grid), all the transition costs of sustainable fuel substitutes are in the fuels themselves.
Our recent study is part of a renewed focus on synthetic fuels or synfuels (fuels converted from feedstocks other than petroleum). Synfuels were first made on an industrial scale in the 1920s by turning coal into liquid hydrocarbons using the so-called Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, named after its original German inventors. But using coal as a feedstock produces far dirtier fuel than even conventional petroleum-based fuels.
One possible route to carbon-neutral synthetic fuels would be to use woody residues and wastes as feedstock to create synthetic biofuels with less impact on the environment and food production than crop-based biofuels. Another option would be to produce synfuels from CO₂ and water using low-carbon electricity. But producing such “electrofuels” would need either a power system that is very low cost and ultra-low-carbon (such as those of Iceland or Quebec) or require dedicated sources of zero-carbon electricity that have high availability throughout the year.
Synthetic biofuels and electrofuels both have the potential to deliver sustainable fuels at scale, but these efforts are still at the demonstration stage. Audi opened a €20M e-gas (electro fuel) plant in 2013 that produces 3.2 MW of synthetic methane from 6 MW of electricity. The €150M Swedish GoBiGas plant was commissioned in 2014 and produced synthetic biomethane at a scale of 20 MW using 30 MW of biomass.
Despite the many virtues of carbon-neutral synthetic fuels though, most commercial-scale projects are currently on hold. This is due to the high investment cost of pioneer process plants combined with a lack of sufficiently strong government policies to make them economically viable and share the risk of scale-up.
Government and industry attempts to encourage people to buy electric vehicles aren’t a problem in themselves. Our concern is that an exclusive focus on electrification may make solving the 100 EJ problem impossible. It is too early to tell which, if any, sustainable fuels will emerge successful and so the most pressing need is to scale up production from the current demonstration stage. If not, when our attention finally turns away from glossy electric car advertisements in a few years, we will find ourselves at a standing start in addressing the rest of the problem.
Posted on August 8th, 2018, this article by Jonny Williamson expands on the future of manufacturing possibilities of those countries that would be best at it in the future. Preparing for the on-coming Fourth Industrial Revolution will be rewarding through commercial opportunities to be gained, by these that are not surprisingly almost all from amongst the developed countries of today. For instance, “the leading 25 countries account for more than 75% of global manufacturing value added, while 90% of the countries from Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Eurasia fall into the low level of readiness.”
Readiness for the future would require, according to this study, not regional or national but global solutions. Connected production systems that have so far developed quasi naturally would need “not only sophisticated technology but also standards, norms and regulations that cross technical, geographical and political boundaries, to release efficiencies and make it easier to do business across global value chains.”
However, for all this to happen, it will have to be through new approaches to public-private collaboration that complement traditional models.
The report, developed in collaboration with A.T. Kearney, provides a snapshot of today’s global production landscape along with potential responses to emerging technologies and new production systems and/or business models
The new framework is made up of two main components: ‘Structure of Production’, which measures a country’s scale and complexity of production; and ‘Drivers of Production’ – the key enablers that position a country to capitalise on the 4IR to transform production systems.
Recognising that each country has its own unique goals and strategy for production and development, participants are assigned to one of four archetypes:
·Leading (strong current base, high level of readiness for the future)
·High Potential(limited current base, high potential for the future)
·Legacy (strong current base, at risk for the future)
·Nascent (limited current base, low level of readiness for the future).
Image courtesy of Future of Production Report 2018, World Economic Forum & A.T. Kearney.
Along with further qualitative analysis, the initial assessment reveals eight main findings:
1.Global transformation of production systems will be a challenge, and the future of production could become increasingly polarised in a two-speed world. The 25 countries in the Leadingarchetype account for more than 75% of global manufacturing value added (MVA), while 90% of the countries from Latin America, Middle East, Africa and Eurasia fall into the low level of readiness.
2.Different pathways will emerge as countries navigate the transformation of production systems. Advanced manufacturing will not be the chosen path for all: some may seek to capture traditional manufacturing opportunities in the near term, while others will pursue a dual approach, or prioritise other sectors altogether.
3.All countries have room for improvement. No country has reached the frontier of readiness, let alone harnessed the full potential of the 4IR in production. While there are early leaders to learn from, these countries are also still navigating the early stages of transformation.
4.Common challenges within each archetype indicate potential future pathways for Leading, Legacy, High Potential and Nascent countries. Countries can learn from each other, while pursuing their own unique strategy.
5.Technological advancement brings the potential for leapfrogging, but only a handful of countries are positioned to capitalise. Lagging countries can potentially enter emerging industries at a later stage without the legacy costs of earlier investment, but only if they have the right set of capabilities and develop effective strategies for capturing leapfrogging opportunities most relevant to them.
6.The 4IR will trigger selective reshoring, nearshoring and other structural changes to global value chains. Emerging technologies will change the cost-benefit equation for shifting production activities and, ultimately, impact location attractiveness. All countries must develop unique capabilities to make them attractive production destinations and capitalise on these shifts.
7.Readiness for the future of production requires global, not just national, solutions. Globally connected production systems need not only sophisticated technology but also standards, norms and regulations that cross technical, geographical and political boundaries, to release efficiencies and make it easier to do business across global value chains.
8.New and innovative approaches to public-private collaboration are needed to accelerate transformation. Every country faces challenges that cannot be solved by the private sector or public sector alone. New approaches to public-private collaboration that complement traditional models are needed to help governments quickly and effectively form partnerships that unlock new value.
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Earth has been used as a building material for at least the last 12,000 years. Ethnographic research into earth being used as an element of Aboriginal architecture in Australia suggests its use probably goes back much further.
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