In coping with the energy crisis caused by climate change and the Ukraine crisis, decarbonization policies have now become a global issue. Korea, which imports a large part of its energy, as well as major countries in the Middle East and North Africa, which are resource exporters, are establishing long-term renewable energy green transformation strategies to prepare for future crises. The Ministry of Environment in Korea has established a green industry classification system and is preparing standards for various new and renewable energy industries. The government and companies are also striving to increase our competitiveness in various fields such as power infrastructure, electric vehicles, finance, and hydrogen industries.
Major countries in the Middle East and North Africa are also pursuing long-term plans to intensively foster industries suitable for their conditions, such as wind power, solar power, and hydrogen, in order to transform into a decarbonized economy. The region has also adopted a green transformation strategy as a mid- to long-term growth strategy while responding to climate change. In this situation, this study attempted to examine why major Middle Eastern and North African countries, which have relied on traditional energy such as oil and natural gas, have recently conducted intensive investment in green industries such as hydrogen and solar power, and to find out how the region is seeking cooperation. Moreover, this study selected four countries in the Middle East and North Africa through a survey, and examined the current status and policies of the green transformation industry of the selected countries. Finally, the green conversion industry capabilities of the above four countries were analyzed, and based on this, cooperation strategies with Korean companies were derived through a survey.
Chapter 2 examines the background and current status of Korea's green conversion policy. As a new national strategy in the post-corona era, the Korean New Deal was promoted, and the green transformation became an important factor. The ultimate goal is to achieve zero carbon emissions and accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, green economy. Chapter 2 also analyzed the status and policies of green transformation in major countries, focusing on the EU, the United States, and Japan. All of these developed countries are also aiming to cope with the climate change crisis and transform themselves into a sustainable society. Moreover, it can be seen that a large-scale investment program is being implemented to promote the green economic transition.
Section 3 of Chapter 2 explains the current status of cooperation between the three major countries above, Korea, and four countries in the Middle East and North Africa. European countries, which are adjacent to the Middle East geographically, are the most active in cooperation with Middle East and North African countries. Major Middle Eastern and North African countries are emerging as key mutual partners, especially as important suppliers for European hydrogen demand.
The Biden administration of the United States is also strengthening cooperation with countries in the Middle East and North Africa to cope with climate change. The United States invited the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Israel to discuss ways to cooperate at the 2021 U.S. climate summit. In the United States, private companies are particularly active in entering the green transformation industry in the Middle East and North Africa. Air Products, a U.S. industrial gas and chemical company, is actively cooperating with Saudi Arabia and Oman for hydrogen and ammonia production.
Japan is also accelerating efforts to produce and transport hydrogen-free ammonia in Middle Eastern countries such as the UAE. Historically reliant on Middle East crude oil, Japan is working on a strategy to expand this relationship to green areas. Korea is also preparing various measures for cooperation with Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt at the government and corporate level, and the country that is most actively promoting cooperation is UAE.
Chapter 3 analyzed the green conversion industries in four major countries in the Middle East and North Africa. First of all, we looked at the background and current status of new and renewable energy development in Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and UAE. The above four countries are also pursuing strategies to secure eco-friendly and sustainable industrial capabilities by breaking away from production and consumption patterns that relied on existing fossil fuels. Two North African countries, low or non-acid oil countries, are fostering inexpensive renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power as energy sources for future generations. Saudi Arabia and the UAE in the Middle East, which are rich in fossil fuel resources, are emerging as green hydrogen production sites using solar energy. The MENA area is rich in solar radiation and wind speed, presenting favorable conditions to secure competitiveness as one of the cheapest areas in the world for green hydrogen production.
Chapter 3 also quantitatively analyzed the competitiveness of the green transformation industry in four countries in the Middle East and North Africa. The economic index utilized in this quantitative analysis was divided into the categories of growth, specialization, and potential, and the policy index was also analyzed by dividing it into legal systems and financial support. According to the analysis results, considering all aspects comprehensively, potential in the new and renewable energy industry is high in the order of Saudi Arabia, UAE, Morocco, and UAE. However, looking at the detailed index, it was found that there are strengths by region. First of all, Saudi Arabia and UAE, which are rich in domestic investment due to huge oil exports and imports, were evaluated to have a comparative advantage in economic index over Egypt and Morocco. On the other hand, Morocco and Egypt, which relatively lack domestic investment resources, seem to be actively attracting domestic and foreign investment by creating an institutional environment favorable to investment in the renewable energy industry.
Chapter 4 analyzes surveys to select base countries in the Middle East and North Africa and to derive promising cooperation fields with statistics. To this end, a survey was conducted on experts in related fields at home. 100 survey answers were analyzed on a first-come, first-served basis. The survey adopted a analytical hierarchical process (AHP) method based on the relationship with Korea and the influence of trading partners. Considering diplomatic power, trade volume, private exchange, logistics infrastructure, location and stability, the market was subdivided. An analysis of the selection of candidates for bases using the AHP was conducted on domestic MENA and industry experts. According to the analysis results, the relationship with Korea has a weight about five times higher than that of the target country in the relationship between Korea and the influence of the target country. In other words, it can be seen that Korean MENA experts focus more on relations with Korea than on the influence of the target country. It also showed that diplomatic power weighed five times more than trade volume and private exchange, and that the logistics infrastructure was evaluated seven times more important than competitiveness, geopolitical, and political stability factors.
In addition, based on 100 questionnaires, fields and products with high potential for cooperation with Korea were evaluated. The solar heat and light fields were evaluated as promising cooperation projects based on the geopolitical advantages of abundant sunlight and thermal energy in areas with high potential for cooperation with two North African countries. The area's most undervalued area is the bio sector. Promising eco-friendly energy products have emerged in the solar cell sector. Except for solar cells, secondary batteries, hydrogen cells, and ESSs showed normal scores in the 5-point range. In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, two Middle Eastern countries, solar and solar projects were also selected as the most promising areas of cooperation. It was investigated that products related to green transformation, which are promising to cooperate in the above two countries, are smart grids, solar cells, and ESS.
Based on the examination of green transformation policies and environments in major Middle East and North Africa, the analysis of industry competitiveness of the major countries, and the extraction of possible fields and products of cooperation via survey questionnaires, this research has presented some suggestions which may contribute to mutual benefits towards MENA's industrial diversification efforts and our decarbonization strategy. The main suggestions are 1) forming a mid- to long-term dedicated TF in the Middle East and North Africa, 2) establishing a comprehensive win-win cooperation model with the countries, 3) seeking to advance together with advanced countries or companies, 4) expanding top-down approaches of summit diplomacy, 5) holding regular green transformation (reverse) roadshows, and 6) building networks and training professionals in the related fields.