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UK company strikes Mideast deal for hydrogen generators

hydrogen fuel cell Shutterstock
Vehicles powered by hydrogen fuel cells are more efficient than those with conventional internal combustion engines and do not produce harmful tailpipe emissions
  • Alternative to diesel-powered generators
  • Tamgo will promote generators across 16 countries
  • Other clients include Aramco, Neom and Red Sea Global

UK hydrogen fuel cell company AFC Energy has signed an agreement with a leading Saudi marketer to sell its hydrogen generators in the Middle East and Central Asia.

The deal gives Saudi Arabia’s The Machinery Group (Tamgo) exclusive rights to market AFC Energy’s alternative to diesel-powered generators in 16 countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and Kazakhstan. 

Tamgo’s clients include Saudi oil major Aramco and many of the giga-projects associated with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 project to diversify away from oil revenues and develop an industrial and tourism base.

These include Neom, the Red Sea Global tourist resort and entertainment city Qiddiya. 

Tamgo is part of the Jeddah-based Zahid Group, which is involved in many of Vision 2030’s projects that aim to make Saudi Arabia a pioneer in renewable energy technologies. 

Hydrogen has been a focus of attention as competition to find cheaper and more green batteries and generators intensifies. 

Green hydrogen, produced by renewable energy sources, is still around four times more expensive than grey hydrogen, produced by electrolisers powered by natural gas or other fossil fuels. 

US car manufacturer General Motors said last year it would expand its hydrogen fuel cell business beyond vehicles, supplying hydrogen-based generators for industry. 

Japan’s Honda Motor said has developed a fuel cell system with General Motors. The country plans to make hydrogen a major power source by 2030. 

In the electric vehicle industry, hydrogen fuel cells have so far lost out to cheaper lithium-ion batteries. 

But these could also face a challenge from new technology that produces pure lithium batteries from oilfield brines, according to a partnership between US firm Pure Lithium and the Saudi-based Energy Capital Group.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has expressed scepticism about hydrogen’s role in a shift to a more sustainable future, saying last year it was “the most dumb thing” he could imagine for energy storage.

The hydrogen rainbow

  • Green hydrogen is produced on a carbon-neutral basis through water electrolysis. 
  • Turquoise hydrogen is created when natural gas is broken down into hydrogen and solid carbon with the help of methane pyrolysis.
  • Blue hydrogen is generated from the steam reduction of natural gas. 
  • Grey hydrogen is obtained by steam reforming fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal. 
  • Sometimes other colours are ascribed to hydrogen, based on how it is produced. For red, pink and violet hydrogen, the electrolysers are driven by nuclear power. 
  • Yellow hydrogen is hydrogen produced from a mixture of renewable energies and fossil fuels. 
  • White hydrogen is a waste product of other chemical processes, while the use of coal as a fuel produces brown hydrogen.

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