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UK and UAE are powering the global energy transition

A shared passion for reaching net zero binds together two nations known for their historical reliance on fossil fuels

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BP and Adnoc are ready to move to the design phase of their low-carbon hydrogen H2 Teesside project

At first glance, it might sound counterintuitive for the UAE, a nation whose prosperity has been secured through the exploitation of fossil fuels, to be hosting Cop28 in November next year.

However, the UAE prides itself on challenging assumptions and exceeding expectations, and in future years it will become as synonymous with hydrogen as it has been with hydrocarbons.

The UK is on a similar journey of energy transition and shares the UAE’s passion for innovation and technology-based solutions to the climate crisis.

It is natural that both countries will, as their governments described it in September 2021, be “partners for the future” as they seek to address the global sustainability challenge.

UAE investors are already playing an important role in helping the UK deliver the transformation required to reach net zero.

Abu Dhabi’s clean energy company Masdar has invested in several innovative offshore wind and energy storage projects in the UK, and last month BP and Adnoc announced they were moving to the design phase of their low-carbon hydrogen H2 Teesside project – the Abu Dhabi energy giant’s first investment in the UK.

This project will include two 500mw hydrogen production units and is expected to commence operations in 2027. The deal includes a feasibility study for a low-carbon hydrogen project in the UAE. 

North Sea oil and gas will continue to be a key asset as the UK transitions to net zero

Masdar and BP are also exploring opportunities for collaboration on HyGreen Teesside, BP’s green hydrogen project powered by offshore wind in the north-east’s Teesside industrial cluster.

The project will generate 60mw of hydrogen when it starts operations in 2025 and will gradually increase production to 500mw by 2030.

North Sea oil and gas will continue to be a key asset as the UK transitions to net zero.

Scotland’s Aberdeen, the hub for these energy resources, is already preparing for the future.

As the home of the Net Zero Technology Centre and X-Academy – which provides people with the skills needed for the energy transition – the city is also a base for some of the world’s leading energy transition companies, such as Wood, Xodus and Petrofac. 

On June 13, the UAE-UK Energy Transition Summit will be held in Aberdeen, and will seek to answer the following three questions: What do we need to do in the next five years to sustain momentum towards net zero? How do we retrain workers in the oil and gas sector so that they have the skills needed for the new energy industries of the future? And how do we pay for this energy transition?

With their shared expertise in engineering, education and financial services, the UK and the UAE are well-placed to address these challenges as they collaborate on new and innovative energy transition projects over the years ahead.

Bradley Jones is executive director, UAE-UK Business Council