We're thrilled to present a Q&A session with Aamir Sayeed, General Manager – MEA & India at Graco High Pressure Equipment Inc. Graco specialises in High-Pressure Components up to 150,000 psi, catering to Hydrogen Mobility, Space Research, and Oil & Gas. Aamir Sayeed's recent projects include India's first GREEN Hydrogen Plant, the inaugural Commercial HCNG HRS in Vadodara, Oman's first HRS at Muscat International Airport, and the upcoming world's highest altitude HRS station in LEH.

Join us as we delve into Aamir Sayeed's expertise, exploring global hydrogen infrastructure, its growth potential, and fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving hydrogen industry. Gain insights into Aamir's experiences in the Middle East, where hydrogen strategically advances alternative fuel sources.

#WHF: How does the adoption of hydrogen vehicles contribute to achieving net-zero goals in the transportation sector, considering their environmental impact compared to other available alternatives like electric and hybrid vehicles?

#Aamir Sayeed: As far as establishing itself as an alternative fuel source within the mobility sector, hydrogen has experienced a considerable tailwind following the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in 2021. With an accelerated target to decarbonize road transport, H2 has carved out a strong position within heavy transportation (i.e. trains, trucks, buses) as commercial solutions evolve for fleet conversions from fossil fuels and electric alternatives.

It is true that H2 has not seen the same level of success as hybrid or EV vehicles for light motor vehicles (LMV); still I believe that significant inroads could be made into this market by the nature of the benefits that H2 Mobility provides over EV or hybrid vehicles. A few of these benefits are described below:

i. No existent battery recycling challenges unlike EV or hybrid vehicles.

ii. H2 can be utilised in a blend with other fuel sources (i.e. H2 with CNG/HCNG).

iii. Consumer fueling experience is similar to gasoline.

iv. Exhaust from H2 vehicles is pure water (H20) and thus produces no emissions.

When envisioning the future for H2 mobility, I foresee the continued embrace of hydrogen as a fuel source in heavy transport with LMV as a split between alternative solutions (H2, EV and hybrid) as traditional fossil-fuel dependent vehicles begin to be phased out worldwide.

#WHF: Given hydrogen's highly combustible nature, how can we address and reassure public safety concerns associated with using hydrogen as a fuel in cars, especially in terms of potential accidents or mishaps on the roads?

#Aamir Sayeed: Assuaging public concern regarding the use of hydrogen as a fuel source is a matter of education and standardisation of industry practices. Lest we forget that liquid hydrogen has been used as a propellant in space exploration for more than two decades, there exists substantive experience in the handling of both gaseous and liquid hydrogen that more than proves viability within commercial markets.

With that being said, the H2 mobility market still remains in its infancy as far as standardising the methods and procedures related to the infrastructure, delivery and storage of hydrogen. For the further acceleration of technological adoption, mitigation of objections that otherwise lower risk tolerance must be addressed.

Some standards have been brought into practice that I can spotlight as positive signs of things to come. EC79 has been formulated to ensure the components used on the H2 vehicles are manufactured to certain tolerances and standards, while ISO 19880 is standard to ensure the hydrogen refuelling stations (HRS) are built to an industry standard and all necessary precautions are adhered to. Still, stricter governance is yet required to ensure standards are upkeep and maintained in a rapidly shifting landscape for hydrogen technologies.

#WHF: What specific advantages does the Middle East offer in terms of hydrogen production, and how might these advantages appeal to companies looking to invest in this region's rapidly increasing hydrogen industry?

#Aamir Sayeed: The Middle East is well positioned for success in the production of hydrogen and has a large stake in driving the development of infrastructure for alternative fuel sources. While the outlook for the global oil and gas market remains strong, diversifying and taking the stage as world leaders in H2 production is a strategic win for the region where it can leverage technological and resource advantages.

A byproduct of crude oil production, natural gas has traditionally been the methane source for hydrogen production. Still considered carbon-neutral, this hydrogen has been called “blue hydrogen” and represents a method for the Middle East to leverage current emissions as a business asset. As for “green hydrogen”, the abundance of solar intensity in the Middle East makes for fertile ground for production to be both cost effective and feasible to deliver regularly at lower cost.

The Middle East has already attracted business across the region for a variety of projects relating to hydrogen. For instance, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has set a tremendous benchmark with the ambitious NEOM project with an estimated spend of more than $8.4 billion as perhaps the largest “green hydrogen” project in the world. Oman and the United Arab Emirates have set lofty H2 production goals of 8.5 MTPA and 15 MTPA respectively for the year 2050. For reference, the Middle East as a whole is forecast to produce 18.15 Mt of hydrogen by 2030 per S&P Global Commodity Insights.

#WHF: Could you provide insights into the existing global hydrogen infrastructure's status and effectiveness? Additionally, what are the key areas that require development and enhancement within this industry, considering its immense potential for growth and advancement?

#Aamir Sayeed: At a glance, there are over 835 hydrogen refuelling stations operating worldwide across 33 different countries. Asia is home to 363 of these locations, primarily concentrated in Japan (195), China (105) and Korea (95) for use mostly in bus and truck fleets. In Europe, Germany (101) operates nearly half of the 228 stations on the continent while North America is heavily invested in California with that state operating 60 of the 86 hydrogen stations in NA.

H2 infrastructure and H2 vehicle commercial availability are a bit of a “chicken-and-egg” scenario, where vehicle cost must decrease and infrastructure must be economical and scalable to be successful. These things occur in tandem or the business model simply does not add up at the end of the day.

As I see it, impetus for growth is still a derivative of the scale of funding afforded by both the public and private sectors into hydrogen production. Government policies that drive private investment into the research and development and manufacturing of capital equipment (i.e. electrolyzers, compressors, storage solutions dispensers) are critical to swift HRS deployment. It is important that time and total project costs are reduced to see a benefit for the proliferation of H2 vehicles. Ideally, if the ecosystem was given the funding and sufficient policies, we could see hydrogen production costs drop from $5-8/kg to $1-2/kg which would make H2 a fierce competitor against other alternative fuel choices.

#WHF: How do events like the World Hydrogen Forum significantly impact the advancement and evolution of the global hydrogen industry, influencing innovation, collaboration, and strategic development within this sector?

#Aamir Sayeed: For hydrogen to grow, it is important that we host events like the World Hydrogen Forum to foster collaboration between academia, research, private enterprises and government bodies and bolster our collective understanding of the subject matter that we strive independently to tackle each day.

I find what I most enjoy about H2-centric events is the disparate aims that so many of my colleagues have. Certainly there are those that build vertically on existing subject matter, but I am intrigued by the vastness of the approaches that are taken to this field and how that knowledge benefits us. I think that the World Hydrogen Forum offers a compelling platform to nurture thought around the new and exciting ideas that will propel this industry forward.