Siemens chairman convinced Sarawak green country of future with potential to supply clean hydrogen for global needs

A screengrab of Snabe delivering his keynote address during IDECS 2022 which was broadcast live via the Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas) Facebook page.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, June 21: Sarawak will be the green country of the future with potential to supply clean hydrogen or renewable energy that the world will need as more and more countries and companies are committing to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 in a race to combat climate change. 

Siemens chairman and Maersk chairman Jim Hagemann Snabe is convinced that Sarawak can achieve this with the bold leadership of Premier of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg who dares to dream big about the future, challenge old assumptions, put plans in place and master the critical details in particular digitalisation, electrification, hydrogen and unleashing human potential to get Sarawak there. 

Referring to the Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered aircraft that has successfully completed its flight around the world without a drop of liquid fuel, wind delivering 100 per cent of energy consumption in Denmark that is cheaper than fossil fuels, electricity and hydrogen-powered trains which Siemens will delivered to Egypt and Maersk vessels powered by green fuel, he pointed out: “Two technologies will stand out as the most important—electricity and hydrogen.”

“I am telling you this because I predict that when companies like Maersk and others begin to commit to zero carbon shipping or transportation or manufacturing or food systems or urban areas, we are going to need an obscene amount of green electricity and we are going to need a thousand times more green hydrogen. 

“And that is the essence of the strategy that you (Sarawak) have chosen. This beautiful green country can become the supplier of that.

“And I think that net zero is not even a target for you because you will be actually reducing CO2 emissions because of your nature,” he said.

Snabe highlighted this when delivering his keynote address on “Environmental Sustainability & Hydrogen Economy” at the 5th International Digital Economy Conference Sarawak (Idecs) 2022 at Borneo Convention Centre (BCCK) here today. 

With Sarawak’s abundance of natural resources, he pointed out that the challenge will be to make the system so intelligent that it can distribute, store and release energy at times when needed because this system produces energy when nature delivers the energy. 

He explained that the electric engine is the most efficient motor invented with more than 85 per cent of the efficiency of the electricity going to the wheels of an electric car or to a propeller of a ship. 

Second will be hydrogen, he added, because it can fuel not only cars and buses, but it can also create green fuel that can solve problems and needs where electricity is not an option.

“I imagine a world of hydrogen becoming the source of energy, not fossil fuels. And I often remind people who have a hard time imagining this future that the stone age didn’t end because we ran out of stone, we simply had better technologies. Electrification and hydrogen will be the sources of that transformation,” he said. 

With his leadership experience in transforming Maersk which is the largest shipping company in the world operating 750 vessels and moving 1.5 million containers every single month, Snabe said Maersk alone emits more CO2 than Denmark as a country. 

“I spent the last five years transforming the company from a conglomerate with four businesses in the oil and gas industry and four businesses in the transformation industry. 

“We sold the oil businesses because we knew the future of energy will not be fossil fuels but electricity and hydrogen. And we focus all of our attention to reinvent transportation of goods which emits roughly nine per cent of global CO2. So it is an industry that is quite polluting,” he explained.
While Maersk managed to bring down emissions by 41.8 per cent over the years, the company realised that there was a limit to how much it can be reduced. The management discussed, suggested and later committed itself to zero-carbon shipping by 2050, but without a plan or know-how to do it. 

But since taking the bold steps to embark on the journey in 2018 that requires invention of zero carbon vessels by 2030 as it would take some 20 years to replace 750 vessels, Snabe shared that “the impossible is becoming a reality now” by taking green electricity from solar and wind and converting that to green hydrogen and then converting hydrogen to green fuel which is liquid in normal temperature and putting that in the tanks of the future vessels. 

“We ordered the first batch of vessels on July 1, 2021 and will sail in 2023, seven years ahead of the 2030 timeline. One month later, we ordered the next eight vessels and then another four months later. Two months ago, we committed to move the deadline (zero-carbon shipping) to 2040. 

“I asked the team how much green electricity we need if we want to fuel our 750 vessels with green fuel made of green hydrogen coming from green electricity. And the answer is—hold on to your seats—20,000 gigawatt hours of electricity from wind or solar. That is 10 per cent of the entire global installed base of green electricity in 2019.”

So what will it take to achieve this? Snabe pointed out that it requires “leadership of dreams and details because we already have the technologies necessary to create a sustainable and inclusive future.”

“I’m convinced that the countries that realise that we are at this inflection point, that we have the technologies and now what we need is to scale up to create a sustainable and inclusive future, they are the countries that will benefit the most and they will show the rest of the world how to it is done.

“So if you combine this strategy with the preservation of nature that you have—I saw it when I flew over the country how green it is—and I thought of course this will be the green country of the future,” he added. — DayakDaily