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INTERVIEW: UAE's Bee'ah eyes 2023 start-up for $180 mil waste to hydrogen plant

Highlights

Bee'ah planning more such projects in MENA region: CEO

Facility to power hydrogen vehicles

Bee'ah-Masdar waste to energy plant start-up slated for end-2021

Bee'ah, the UAE-based company developing the country's first $180 million waste-to-hydrogen plant, is eyeing a 2023 start-up for the facility and is scouring for more similar projects in the Middle East and North Africa region, its CEO told S&P Global Platts.

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Sharjah-based Bee'ah, which also operates in Saudi Arabia and Egypt, is partnering with UK-based Chinook Sciences to build the waste-to-hydrogen plant, which will be used to fuel the UAE company's hydrogen-powered fleet of vehicles, Khaled al-Huraimel said in a July 26 interview.

"The plant itself will be a hydrogen fueling station at the same time, so basically we will invest in hydrogen-powered vehicles, including waste collection vehicles," Huraimel said.

In 2022, Bee'ah will start construction of the plant, which will be producing 18,000 kg/day of hydrogen by processing some 180,000 tons of waste per year. Initially, the plant will be able to provide fuel to 100 hydrogen-powered vehicles. He said the cost of the hydrogen makes the project "commercially viable" in Sharjah, the third biggest emirate in the seven-member UAE federation.

Bee'ah is eyeing more such ventures in other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

"We are looking at the circular economy concept and our intention, as the hydrogen market matures, to have more of these facilities [and of] different sizes," Huraimel said. "As we look at investing in waste to hydrogen, we will look at potentially other partners as we expand internationally."

Hydrogen alliance

UAE companies are racing ahead to get on the green and blue hydrogen bandwagon as OPEC's third-biggest producer taps its vast gas and oil resources.

Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. is leading efforts to produce blue hydrogen and ammonia in oil-rich Abu Dhabi.

ADNOC is developing its first blue ammonia facility with a capacity of 1 million mt/year, which is expected to start production in 2025.

Japan's state-owned Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corp., INPEX and JERA as well as ADNOC will explore the possibility of producing 1 million mt/year of blue ammonia in Abu Dhabi and transporting it to Japan, a Jogmec source told S&P Global Platts earlier this month.

ADNOC has announced a number of hydrogen agreements since the end of 2020, when Abu Dhabi's former Supreme Petroleum Council mandated the national oil producer to become a leader in the production of hydrogen.

The UAE's energy ministry, ADNOC, sovereign wealth funds ADQ and Mubadala Investment Co. formed a green and blue hydrogen alliance earlier in 2021 to promote the production and use of the fuel in the UAE and ultimately to export markets.

The UAE's Khalifa Industrial Zone Abu Dhabi, or KIZAD, has also announced plans to build a $1 billion green ammonia facility in the free zone, targeting regional and international markets.

ADQ-owned Abu Dhabi Ports is also in talks with utilities firm Taqa, which is majority-owned by ADQ, to set up a green ammonia plant in KIZAD, powered by a 2 GW solar power plant.

Waste to Energy plants

Bee'ah and Masdar, an Abu-Dhabi clean energy firm owned by Mubadala, which manages $243 billion in assets, also have a 50:50 joint venture to build waste to energy plants in the UAE and MENA region.

Their first 30 MW plant in Sharjah will start commissioning by the end of 2021 and will take more than 300,000 tons per year of waste. The $162 million plant is the first such facility to be built in the UAE.

"We are exploring opportunities in different locations. We are looking at Egypt, we are looking at other emirates [in the UAE], and looking at Saudi in the future," Huraimel said.

Bee'ah and Masdar are also planning to develop a 120 MW solar landfill farm in Sharjah within the next two years.

"When our waste to energy plant is commissioned, and all the non-recyclable waste goes to this facility and away from landfill, we will not need the landfill anymore," Huraimel said. "We have decided to repurpose the landfill into a solar farm located in same area."