Middle East Power: Outlook 2035
Bold strategies can help diversify the energy mix and secure sustainable power for the Middle East for decades to come. This comprehensive report explains the shifting dynamics of the region's energy sector.
Sustainable Energy Management in the Middle East
Governments and utilities in the Middle East are warmly embracing renewable energy. But as they leverage the enormous potential of sun and wind in the region, they face the major hurdle of integrating fluctuating electricity supply into existing grids generally designed for traditional stable power generation.
By transforming the electricity from solar PV into hydrogen through solar-powered hydrogen electrolysis, this energy from the sun can be stored, even for extended periods of time. This provides utilities and others generating power with a clean fuel source that can be used whenever demand requires.
At the same time, governments are pushing sustainability across their economies, in areas such as manufacturing and transportation. Today, hydrogen is primarily used by industry. A supply of clean hydrogen produced by renewable power could help these industries reduce their carbon footprint. Main users of hydrogen found in the Middle East include fertilizer manufacturers, refineries, and producers of methanol, polymers and resins.
Clean hydrogen also can help address the challenges of carbon-free transportation, with fuel cell vehicles powered by hydrogen emitting only water. These vehicles can fill their hydrogen tanks in just a few minutes, compared to much longer charging times for electric vehicles batteries. As well, hydrogen power is ideal for heavy-duty transport because it offers significantly longer ranges than exclusively batterypowered vehicles.
Green Hydrogen in Dubai
The opportunities provided by clean hydrogen will soon be available in the Middle East. The construction of the region’s first ‘green’ hydrogen plant is underway, as part of a public-private partnership between Siemens and both Dubai Electricity & Water Authority (DEWA) and Expo 2020 Dubai. The megawatt-scale, solar-powered hydrogen electrolysis pilot facility electrolysis facility is expected to begin producing hydrogen in time to fuel vehicles for Expo 2020 Dubai, which opens in October 2020.
At the core of the pilot facility is the Siemens SILYZER solar PV-powered PEM (proton exchange membrane) electrolyzer, a technology loaded with proven quality and expertise. Located at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, the facility also will include hydrogen storage and down-stream linkages to power generation, transportation, and industrial processes.
The project will explore every aspect of the technology and associated systems in the context of the Arabian Gulf climate and geography, the local industrial ecosystem, and regional sustainability goals.
For the Middle East’s utility and industrial sectors, the innovative SILYZER PEM technology, which can be powered by either solar- or wind-generated electricity, offers particular benefits:
- High efficiency at high power density
- High product gas quality, even at partial loal
- Low maintenance and reliable operation
- No chemicals or impurities
Along with our partners DEWA and Expo 2020 Dubai, we made the commitment less than a year ago to bring green hydrogen to Dubai. With this ground-breaking ceremony, we are inching closer to making this a reality. Siemens has pioneered this space globally, generating green hydrogen from renewable energy using Proton Exchange Membrane electrolysis. This project will be an important contribution to the evolving energy mix in Dubai and the UAE.Joe Kaeser, President and CEO, Siemens AG
Flexible grids for demanding challengesGiven the dramatic changes in the energy system, grids must be able to flexibly manage bidirectional power flow and intermittency, and the entire system and its operations must be absolutely safe and secure. At the same time, new capacities need to be added, existing equipment updated, and grid operation optimized to make the entire infrastructure fit for the future. The integration of renewable energy into existing grids poses new challenges because of fluctuating demand, increasing distances between power generation and consumption, and the need for more cost-efficient infeed of power from renewables. None of this will work without making grids smarter, i.e. utilizing the potential of digitalization.
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New possibilities by smart digital technologies
More market participants produce much more data than ever. In a large gas turbine alone, for example, hundreds of sensors measure temperature, pressure, flow paths, and gas compositions every second. And all of them – producers, prosumers and consumers – have to be connected in a smart way in order to enable a stable operation of the Future Energy System. Given that there’s no other way than taking the opportunities of digitalization: State-of-the-art analysis methods are required to ensure this data is intelligently evaluated and utilized.