The missing piece of the puzzle: Hydrogen will complement sustainable mobility in the Middle East

Dr. Hamid Haqparwar, Managing Director, BMW Group Middle East

The world is at a crossroads. At the precipice of a climate-affected future, it is imperative to determine the way forward with responsible and sustainable choices. The Paris Agreement was a significant milestone in the fight against climate change, yet only one aspect of the collective action required to address this global challenge.

A crucial part of the narrative in creating a climate viable world lies in creating emission-free mobility, and the journey might be closer than we think. As the world shifts towards alternative energy sources, hydrogen-powered cars hold immense promise for transforming our mobility landscape and creating a sustainable future, and our region is poised to become a prominent driver in this transformative change.

When it comes to emission-free mobility, hydrogen is a key missing piece in the puzzle. As a clean and efficient energy carrier, hydrogen can be produced using renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, ensuring a sustainable production cycle and a reduction of emissions. The International Energy Agency (IEA) has recognised the significant potential of hydrogen as an energy source for the future, particularly in the context of global activities geared toward the energy transition.

We can forge ahead by embracing the infinite possibilities of hydrogen. As the lightest chemical element in the universe, hydrogen has the unique ability to help us overcome our dependency on finite natural resources, paving the way for a more sustainable future. In order to release energy, hydrogen is combined in the fuel cell with oxygen and turned into water vapor with the help of a catalyst. Fuel-cell electric vehicle technology thus has the potential to play a significant role in decarbonising the mobility sector.

From the sands of Middle East, a green revolution is set to rise. In the region, we are uniquely and strategically positioned to lead the global green hydrogen market, replete as we are with abundant renewable resources, geographical convenience and major ongoing infrastructure investments. With more than 50 green hydrogen projects in the region, as stated by a MEED report in November 2022, places the region at the forefront of achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, putting regional and global climate goals in forward drive. Even as the region is taking proactive steps to diversify its energy portfolio and embrace sustainable solutions, forward-thinking automotive companies are leading the charge towards a hydrogen revolution.

Conscious of our role in society, we have been pioneering emission-free technologies for over four decades at the BMW Group, treading a clear path to become climate neutral by 2050. As a strong advocate of circular economy principles, part of which comprise resource efficiency and waste reduction, we’re seeking to reinforce our commitment to sustainability through the cutting-edge BMW iX5 Hydrogen, which offers outstanding long-distance capabilities, rapid refuelling times and zero tailpipe emissions — truly revolutionising our approach to mobility. This aligns perfectly with the Middle East's commitment to improving air quality and mitigating the impact of transportation on the urban environment.

Hydrogen, when used as an energy carrier, presents other remarkable advantages. It can be stored and transported efficiently, making it a flexible, reliable energy solution and creating a virtuous cycle of sustainable energy production and consumption.

As we embark on a new era of mobility, we must adapt and evolve. By lining up fuel-cell-powered electric vehicles (FCEVs) alongside battery electric vehicles (BEVs) for the future, BMW Group is helping bridge the gap between conventional and sustainable transportation options. To make feasible the adoption of hydrogen as a viable and sustainable fuel option for passenger vehicles, we are currently evaluating the possibility of mass production of hydrogen-powered vehicles in the second half of this decade.

As we look down the road, the future of mobility in the MENA region appears bright, aligning with its renewable energy potential and with hydrogen fuel cell technology poised to play a pivotal role in achieving a cleaner, greener and more sustainable world.

By focusing on the potential of hydrogen as a sustainable energy source, companies like BMW Group are not only paving the way for transportation options but also promoting a holistic approach to conservation. Driving this vision of an environmentally responsible future will ensure that our roads are filled with vehicles that not only exemplify advanced technology but also contribute to a healthier planet for generations to come.