A Letter from Jan Haizmann

Pinar Kilavuzlu
May 22, 2024

Middle East Initial Impressions, Thoughts and Plans

I just recently moved to Dubai, coming here with my family. After three decades living and working in the UK and Belgium, we decided to relocate to this fascinating region. We’re excited to be here, where I will continue to promote the development of new markets for trading sustainable commodities.

Impressive Progress

What I see here impresses me. The vast expansion of renewable energy, with the world’s largest solar arrays producing power at the world’s lowest prices, shows this region’s real commitment to leveraging its magnificent natural resources to meet its climate goals. The MBR Solar Park in Dubai, Noor Abu Dhabi, Al Dhafra, and Al Ajban... all combine to carry the UAE to its goal of tripling renewable energy capacity by 2030.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s national program for renewable power is beginning to take off under the leadership of PIF and the Ministry of Energy, powering the Kingdom toward its objective of generating 50 percent of its electricity from RES by 2030.

These gains in renewables are matched by impressive strides in the development of new green fuels from hydrogen and its derivatives. With large projects now under construction at NEOM and at the Port of Duqm in Oman, the UAE’s new National Hydrogen Strategy, and the enormous potential of nearly 30 announced projects in Egypt, there can be no doubt that the MENA region is positioning itself to supply the world with energy in a low-carbon era.

I see all the pieces coming into place to begin building regional markets for these new sources of energy. And, just as MENA has been the world’s energy epicenter for generations, it can now become a new center of production and trade of the new forms of low-carbon and carbon-free commodities. Whereas many think of only exports, the true potential is in creating regional markets.

Key Step

The key step that needs to be taken now, to advance the region on this path, is the development of sustainable markets for green electricity and fuels.

When my colleagues and I began working on energy markets in Europe thirty years ago, there was little clean energy production or trade. Following the de-regulation of national markets and the launch of a single European market, we began to build regional trading platforms for electricity and natural gas as these markets across the EU. We founded a key organization, the European Federation of Energy Traders (EFET), which established international cooperation between companies for the development of standard wholesale trading contracts, trading hubs and exchanges where pricing of commodities could be formed in a transparent manner.

With the EU’s Emissions Trading System (ETS), trading companies helped to create standard contracts and set up OTC facilities to trade them. The EU Commission recognized carbon as a tradable financial instrument. And soon thereafter, as renewable electricity increased, we worked to create new contracts and certificates that allowed trade of the unique ‘green’ quality of electricity from renewable sources. More recently, exchanges are under development to enable European trade of biogas and the new green fuels and e-fuels derived from hydrogen.

We have seen how these markets have accelerated Europe’s progress in renewable energy by giving incentives to investors. The recognition of green quality of electricity generation and the price of carbon-reduction, conveyed in the trade of certificates issued by governments and green energy producers. The dynamic development of wind and solar power at large scale has been enabled through recognizing the sustainable value of the commodity. The same principles of recognition of the sustainable generation of hydrogen will provide incentives for hydrogen and will pave the way for a more sustainable future.

Can Happen Here

And the same can happen in MENA, in particular in the GCC countries, to build on the region’s impressive projects to reach mass scale development in which green forms of energy become truly global commodities. This is why my colleagues and I have created the Zero Emissions Traders Alliance, known as ZETA, and why we have based the new group in this great region of sustainable energy production.

Working closely with governments and energy sector and financial companies throughout the GCC, and wider MENA region, we will strive to create new markets that facilitate trading of sustainable commodities. Our firm belief is that giving the green attributes of the new fuels a market price, whether in voluntary or mandatory systems, will create the leverage needed for further investment that finally begins to reach significant scale. Only markets enable the fair share of allocating commercial risks between the seller and the buyer in a long term off-take contract.  

We are now collaborating with 15 companies, the early movers that see the upside of a regional market for sustainable fuels. As we grow more companies will join us. We will focus on creating local benchmarks and contracts for green hydrogen and its derivatives, and plan for green certificate trading of various fuels.

ZETA is confident that the GCC will become a major global center for the production and export of the new green fuels that the world now needs. We are also confident of the need to create local markets in parallel. We are convinced that only markets can accelerate reaching the net zero goals, whilst allowing regional markets to enable financial markets in green carbon certificates, and the production of sustainable industrial products for export.

I am glad to be here and looking forward to the challenge.


Jan Haizmann

Secretary General, ZETA

Picture of Pinar
Pinar Kilavuzlu
Zero Emissions Traders Alliance