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Neom to produce first green hydrogen this year, CEO says

A green hydrogen plant in China. The Neom Green Hydrogen Company intends to produce 8 tonnes a day. VCG via Reuters Connect
A green hydrogen plant in China. The Neom Green Hydrogen Company intends to produce 8 tonnes a day.
  • Eight tonnes produced a day
  • Funding from 23 banks
  • Powered by wind and solar

Saudi Arabia’s mega-city Neom is set to produce its first green hydrogen this year, a senior executive has confirmed.

Wesam Alghamdi, chief executive of Neom Green Hydrogen Company (NGHC), told a conference in Dubai last week that the Hydrogen Innovation Development Centre will produce eight tonnes of green hydrogen a day on launch this year.

Building on this expertise, the NGHC aims to produce 600 tonnes of the fuel per day by the end of 2026. 

HIDC will be equipped with one 20 megawatt hydrogen electrolyser unit and will run as a research and development  facility. The centre is being developed in partnership with Neom’s water and electricity subsidiary Enowa.

Hydrogen is produced by splitting water into oxygen and hydrogen using an electric current – a process called electrolysis.

“HIDC will allow us to gather data from the electrolyser, develop the technology further, improve operations, and it will be used as a training facility,” Alghamdi said.

Industry experts say the electrolyser constitutes at least half of hydrogen production cost.

The researchers will study the entire hydrogen production chain to maximise energy efficiency during hydrogen production and conversion and demonstrate the potential of upscaling technology across the country and internationally.

The green hydrogen programme is being jointly developed with US energy company Air Products and Acwa Power in Oxagon, Neom’s industrial city in Saudi Arabia’s Tabuk province.

The project is slated to become the world’s largest green hydrogen production facility.

The scheme reached a financial close of $8.4 billion last May, including $6.1 billion in financing from 23 local, regional and international banks and financial institutions. 

In January 2023, Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of industry and mineral resources awarded its first industrial operating licence to NGHC. 

Alghamdi said the green hydrogen produced at Neom will be converted to 1.2 million tonnes a year of ammonia, which will then be shipped through a jetty that is under construction.

NGHC has signed a 30-year off-take agreement with Air Products for all the green ammonia produced at the facility.

Wind and solar will power the project with four gigawatts (GW) of electricity.

The solar farm, situated one hour east of the green hydrogen production facility, will be composed of about 80 sq km of solar panels.

Two hours to the north of Oxagon with be a wind farm with 257 turbines.

“Both sites combined will provide power for 2.2GW of electrolyser,” Alghamdi said, adding that the project will also save five million tonnes of carbon.

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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