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Shaping the green hydrogen conversation at COP26 and beyond

Headshot of Erica Bhasin of Advisian

Erica Bhasin | Decarbonization & Energy Transition Consultant, London | 06 December 2021

Erica Bhasin, Decarbonization & Energy Transition Consultant, recaps her experience moderating a panel session on how to develop a Moroccan green hydrogen strategy at COP26, and the role of young professionals in fostering a hydrogen industry.

If you told me my decision to become a chemical engineer to help rural communities would eventually lead me onto a COP26 panel with key industry players, I could have never imagined it.

But there I was, moderating a discussion on how to promote the growth of green hydrogen in Morocco. It was organised by the National Research Institute for Solar Energy and New Energies of Morocco (IRESEN) and the Moroccan Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development.

The panel included Badr Ikken, CEO of IRESEN, and Tareq Emtairah, Director of Energy at the United Nations Industrial Organisation (UNIDO). They shared the stage with Harry Boyd-Carpenter, Managing Director of Green Economy at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERBRD), Alykhan Kassam, Vice President of Africa for John Cockerill, and David Barrie, New Build Sales Leader of Howden UK.

My experience with green hydrogen and our commitment, as an organization, to grow the sector allowed me to prod the speakers and get insights into the Moroccan hydrogen market. And what it would take to accelerate growth, while making the country a hydrogen hub.

Morocco’s green hydrogen strategy shows its intention to decarbonize

Because Morocco has an abundance of renewable energy, there was a consensus that green hydrogen would be a viable source of clean energy. But potential can only go so far without the intent to act. And Morocco has shown its intention by creating a Ministry of Energy Transition and Sustainability, which has nurtured relationships with the international community. To drive the importance of hydrogen, the ministry has a dedicated strategy which details a roadmap for growing the sector.

But Morocco’s ambitions go beyond its own borders, all the way into international markets. It believes that its hydrogen production will generate so much surplus that it will be able to export to European countries. Ambitions that look very achievable.

Morocco is so advanced in its decarbonization strategy. And recognizes the urgency of addressing emissions that, in June 2021, it increased its emissions reduction targets from 42 to 45.5 percent by 2030.

Examining the issues from the perspective of bankers, industry and technology vendors

The speakers were optimistic, touching on how to drive investment and scale up growth through manufacturing and supply. We spoke about the need for sufficient financing, policies and subsidies and mass manufacturing of electrolyzers. And explored opportunities to promote collaboration between participants and other key stakeholders.

“Misaligned timing between legislation, demand, supply and technology was a key concern during the session.” 

Beyond the session, I was inspired by the youth engagement at COP26. Involving the biggest and brightest minds in hydrogen will help grow the industry.

My advice to young professionals interested in this field is to not let go of the passion and the urgency to act. Whichever industry you’re currently in or looking to get into, you can adapt energy transition into your work. 

The energy transition and decarbonization are no longer isolated fields; they’re now in every piece of work we do. Not only are we having more conversations on sustainable growth, but we’re also investing in sustainable development and technologies. And our job is to expedite the process by identifying the steps that will help society get on track.