Is MENA the Best Hope for Green Hydrogen & Steel?

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Fortescue Future Industries is looking towards the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) for the renewable energy to make green hydrogen. FFI plans to develop a 9.2 GW wind and solar facility in Egypt to power green hydrogen production. This green hydrogen could then be used to make green steel.

The signed MOU with the Egyptian government could also include the building of facilities to produce components for wind turbines and solar farms.

“Egypt is on the way to becoming a global powerhouse in the green energy value chain and will be ready to show the world that at COP27,” said Forrest. “Egypt’s excellent wind and solar resources can generate the renewable energy required to produce large-scale green electricity, green hydrogen and green ammonia.”

H2 Green Steel factory
Artist’s concept of H2 green steel factory. Image credit: H2 Green Steel

Part of the production chain will be the supply of electrolysers. FFI is building a 2 GW electrolyzer factory in Queensland which should be in production by the end of 2023. Recent comments by Twiggy Forrest indicate that even this quantity might not be enough to satisfy FFI’s goals. 

However, Rethink Energy predicts a worldwide surge in the production of electrolysers

A new report from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) suggests that MENA would be best served to use this proposed green hydrogen supply for the production of carbon-neutral steel. This could be sold into the market at a premium, as consumer demand has led European car manufacturers to seek greater quantities of green steel.

“Fortuitously, the region’s sector is dominated by direct reduced iron-electric arc furnace (DRI-EAF) technology, which releases lower emissions than the increasingly obsolete coal-fuelled blast furnace and basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF) process used in 71% of global crude steel production in 2021,” says author of the report Soroush Basirat.

“MENA has an established supply of DR-grade iron ore and its iron ore pelletising plants are among the worlds largest. In 2021, MENA produced just 3% of global crude steel but accounted for nearly 46% of the world’s DRI production…Compared to other regions, MENA’s existing DRI-EAF capacity means no extra investment is needed for replacing the base technology. All new investment could be focused on expanding production of green hydrogen among other renewables.” Read the report here

With massive wind and solar resources and a multitude of projects in the pipeline, MENA’s pioneers — Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and UAE — are moving rapidly into a position of leadership.

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David Waterworth

David Waterworth is a retired teacher who divides his time between looking after his grandchildren and trying to make sure they have a planet to live on. He is long on Tesla [NASDAQ:TSLA].

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