We're thrilled to present a Q&A session with Alicia Eastman, co-host of the popular "Everything About Hydrogen" podcast and a true pioneer in the green fuels sector. Alicia brings decades of experience founding and directing companies like InterContinental Energy, advising esteemed global organisations such as the McKinsey Sustainability Advisory Council, the Hydrogen Council, and UNIDO. Her expertise shines through her frequent appearances at major conferences and publications focused on green hydrogen, sustainability, and related industries.  Beyond her business achievements, Alicia is deeply dedicated to humanitarian work, serving on the board of multiple charities. In this Q&A, Alicia shares insights on the Middle East's role in green hydrogen investment, the economic incentives driving the industry, and the importance of education and collaboration in shaping the future of hydrogen energy.

#WHF: How can the Middle East's existing energy infrastructure facilitate and attract investment in large-scale green hydrogen production?

#Alicia Eastman: First, the Middle East has a comparative advantage in renewable resources, most strikingly, heavy winds at night and strong sun during the day. Large projects achieving economies of scale will lead the world in terms of cost.

Second, GCC countries in particular are investing heavily in projects and infrastructure.

Third, substantial petrochemicals and energy intensive industries are already located there and provide generally excellent credit for offtake.

Fourth, there are a number of ports that could be expanded for near zero emissions bunkering.

5th, given the increasing cost of capital and the high asset intensity of hydrogen projects and infrastructure, makes a great match for halal finance.

Finally, Saudi Arabia in particular, is offering many incentives to diversify income and looking at hydrogen vertical and horizontal integration.

#WHF: What specific economic benefits might encourage hydrogen companies to invest in green hydrogen projects in the Middle East, considering long-term financial strategies?

#Alicia Eastman: Again, halal finance with zero interest and negligible service fees are highly attractive. Export Credit Agencies can also offer vendor finance, inexpensive or free insurance, and creative ways to de-risk.

#WHF: How do you envision the podcast's role in shaping perceptions or influencing investment decisions in the hydrogen industry on a broader scale?

#Alicia Eastman: ‘Everything About Hydrogen’ attempts to educate new companies or people to the sector including all facets from equipment to  finance, DEI and hydrogen derivatives and new markets.

#WHF: How does UNIDO's involvement and initiatives foster investment and development in hydrogen industries globally, and what role can organisations like UNIDO play in enhancing global hydrogen adoption?

Alicia Eastman: UNIDO helps governments to draft Hydrogen Roadmaps and also offers funding for capacity building and early development. They have published (and I have peer reviewed) a guideline to best practices using case studies. UNIDO is also one of the driving forces behind the International Hydrogen Trade Forum (IHTF) alongside Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM), Hydrogen Council, and others which support a universal methodology to calculate emissions intensity using a life cycle approach. Nearly 80% of the market has already agreed and there will also be mutual recognition of different country standards but without knowing the emissions intensity figure, zero or near zero emissions fuels can not be compared apples to apples so this agreed methodology is in the hands of ISO, which certification bodies will use to determine the GHG releases from any given hydrogen project processes, transport, and losses.

#WHF: How do events like the World Hydrogen Forum contribute to fostering investment, collaboration, and advancements within the hydrogen industry, especially concerning global market perceptions and investment decisions?

#Alicia Eastman: The World Hydrogen Forum is an excellent crossroads to learn from other groups, overcome scepticism with education and solve problems together in order to decarbonize the world.