Work is to begin this month on a $5bn project to produce green hydrogen at Saudi Arabia’s futuristic Neom mega-development. When complete in 2026, the plant will be the world’s biggest producer of hydrogen from renewable sources.
The plant is being built by Pennsylvanian company Air Products, which agreed a deal for the scheme in July 2020. This envisaged a system that will use some 4GW of wind and solar electricity to produce more than 650 tonnes of hydrogen a day from 120 Thyssenkrupp electrolysers, each about 40m long.
The hydrogen will be made in the form of ammonia, which is easier to transport than hydrogen in its liquid form.
So far, site preparation work has been in progress, and this will give way to building in the next few days.
The announcement was made by Peter Terium, the chief executive of Enowa, which is Neom’s energy, water and hydrogen subsidiary. He told the Bloomberg news agency that the plant would enable Saudi Arabia to compete with China, South Korea, Europe and the US, all of which are ramping up their own hydrogen sectors.
Alongside the green hydrogen market, state oil producer Saudi Aramco is developing blue hydrogen production, with the help of Air Products and Saudi utility ACWA Power International. Blue hydrogen is made from natural gas.
The Neom economic zone is located in Saudi Arabia’s northwest, on the coasts of the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba. As well as advanced manufacturing, it will be home to The Line, a car-free, zero-carbon city with 1 million inhabitants and no roads, laid out as a 170km-long belt with services and transport infrastructure built underground (see further reading).