Hydrogen Economy for Arab Countries: Perspectives

Arab world is facing major sustainability challenges in achieving social, economic and environmental goals. Hydrogen economy can help Arab governments, companies, and citizens to save billions of dollars each year from reduced energy bills and sustainable waste management, while at the same time reducing carbon footprints – a win-win solution.

Extremely arid climate, acute water scarcity, high energy consumption and polluting oil and gas industry present a unique challenge in Arab countries. Almost one-fifth of the Arab population is dependent on non-commercial fuels for different energy uses. All sectors of the economy — residential, commercial, transport, service and agriculture — demands modern energy services.

hydrogen economy

Gaseous emissions from the exploration and burning of fossil fuels is heavily polluting the atmosphere in the Arab world. Waste management has emerged as a major environmental issue with mountains of wastes accumulating in big cities across the Arab world. Compared to other countries, Arab countries are experiencing higher emissions of oxides of nitrogen, sulphur dioxide and volatile organic compounds.

Hydrogen is the Future

Hydrogen can be produced efficiently and may be used as a source of electricity, heat, transportation fuel, specialty chemicals, industrial production and even for drinking water production. Green hydrogen has tremendous potential to generate clean energy which can be off-grid and decentralized or can fed directly into the existing utility grid.

The surplus heat is a by-product in fuel cells during electricity production, and which can be used for industrial application or district heating. Water is an invaluable product of hydrogen production process in fuel cells and can act as a game-changer for arid countries of the Arab world which are facing severe water shortages.

The energy future of the world lies in hydrogen, fuel cells and batteries for electric mobility on the road, on rails, in the air, and on the water. Climate change is taking a threatening and menacing turn and urgent steps are needed to tackle it. New and innovative transportation solutions are required to fight the climate change in the form of electric vehicles.

The Promise of Hydrogen-Powered Vehicles

Electric engines in any vehicle are powered by electricity from batteries or fuel cells, produced by conversion of clean and environmental-friendly hydrogen (and oxygen from the air) in fuel cells, directly onboard the vehicle. After approximately 500 km and more, the hydrogen tank is filled up at a hydrogen filling station, and the journey can be continued. There are significant advantages over the charging time of battery-powered electric vehicles (cars, lorries, buses, trains, boats, ships, or aircrafts). Even batteries can be charged at home or at charging stations in the city within hours.

Urban electric transportation solutions will help to avoid air pollution, in addition to conservation of fast-depleting fossil fuels. In the coming years, we urgently need to set-up the course for the introduction and market launch of different electric vehicles, and as the pre-requisite, the infrastructure in form of hydrogen filling stations for clean and affordable hydrogen gas, or electric charger stations, all over the Arab world.

The fight against climate change

How to escape the climate disaster and how to build a clean and affordable energy infrastructure? The solution is mass deployment of clean energies, CO²-free and low-carbon fuels, especially hydrogen and fuel cells.

Today the world is more active in climate protection than ever before. Air, water and soil, must be protected, any resource consumption should significantly be reduced, and all type of wastes should be reutilized. People need clean, affordable energy worldwide, and Arab world is no exception.

More than 40 percent of the Arab population in rural and urban poor areas do not have adequate access to energy services. It is also noted that almost one-fifth of the Arab population relies on non-commercial fuels for different energy uses.

A Glance at Basic Principles

  1. Water is life, energy and a fuel
  2. Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen
  3. Water changes its state into hydrogen and oxygen and then back to water
  4. Nothing is lost in the world. Everything only changes its status and can be used over and over again: from the solid to the liquid state to the gaseous state This is the hydrologic and hydrogen circle.
  5. Our energy is utilized in the form of oil, gas, coal, or wood; all are hydro-carbon elements and compounds.
  6. Take away the carbon and use only the hydrogen as C02-free energy for universal use

Sustainable urban development

Clean energy, urban transport, urban planning and clean air solutions are important component of climate change mitigation. If these sectors work together, plan at an early stage and develop themselves on the basis of hydrogen and fuel cells, we will see the emergence of sustainable communities in cities of the Arab world.

The architecture of buildings will change significantly, and construction will be simplified with decentralized fuel cells in buildings producing on-site electricity and heat to meet the energy requirements. Thus, buildings will no longer depend on large centralized power plants for their power and heating requirements.

New transport concepts, based on electric vehicles, will make life easier for us, in the form of good health, fast mobility, clean air, less noise pollution and conservation of natural resources. We will experience clean air, no noise and absence of vibration from a car’s internal combustion engine or diesel generators which generate electricity in addition to many buildings.

Futuristic waste management

The production of hydrogen via gasification technologies, by means of the steam refurbishment of all biomass waste, will completely solve the major problem of waste disposal in the Middle East which are currently struggling to manage municipal and industrial wastes. Municipal waste, industrial waste and other wastes are subjected to an advanced thermal conversion process resulting in the production of high calorific value synthesis gas and valuable mineral.


The people of the Arab world should know about the latest solutions and innovations to make a smooth transition to low-carbon economy and hydrogen-based economy.

Note: The full report on Hydrogen Economy for Arab Countries can be obtained by sending an email to info@clean-energy-bonn.org

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About Heinz Sturm

Heinz J. Sturm is the Author of the Bonn Climate Project, Civil Engineer and a renowned expert on Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology. He is the Founder/Owner of Germany- Bonn-based International Clean Energy Partnership (ICEPS) and Climate Technology Center (CTC). Heinz is regularly advising governments and organisations on hydrogen economy, climate change and clean energy.

One Response to Hydrogen Economy for Arab Countries: Perspectives

  1. BD says:

    Dear Mr Heinz,

    Please note following queries:
    1) How H2 will be produced in the MENA region?
    2) What about storage?
    3) Any case studies?
    4) some of the information needs objective evidences

    Thanks & Regards,

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