The European Union (EU) relies on hydrogen for its industry and transportation sectors, and according to Energy Capital and Power, the bloc is planning to import a minimum of ten million tons of green hydrogen by 2030 while producing an additional ten million tons.
The EU has already started diminishing its reliance on Russian oil, gas, and coal by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Israel and Egypt for gas imports. It is also exploring partnerships in Africa for alternative sources of energy, and Namibia is a strong contender.
The large-scale potential of hydrogen production in Namibia was discussed at this year’s Middle East and Africa Energy Week. The country has selected Hyphen Energy, a joint venture between German renewable energy company Enertag and the investment and project development company Nicholas Holdings to develop a $9.4bn project.
The principal parties will develop solar and wind power projects on enormous tracts of land in the Tsau/Khaeb National Park on the coast of southwestern Namibia, which enjoys more than optimal diurnal wind and solar resources. This will be part of the Southern Corridor Development Initiative (SCDI).
When harnessed effectively, solar and wind energy produce green hydrogen, an alternative energy source that is significantly less emission heavy than traditional energy sources.
Planning for hydrogen production
Set to commence in 2025, the project’s initial phase will deploy $4.4 billion to build 2GW of renewable generation capacity that will produce 125,000 tonnes of green hydrogen by 2026. Thereafter it should go on to attain 5GW of renewable power, and 3GW electrolyser capacity, to produce 300,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2030, for regional and global markets.
James Mnyupe, the Presidential Economic Advisor to the President of The Republic of Namibia, spoke about how Namibia intends to leverage the investment for the country’s internal economic development during the panel discussion, ‘Reimagining a Green MEA: Is Hydrogen the Way Forward?’
“Namibia is a small economy,” he said, about the project, which is valued at nearly the amount of the country’s annual GDP. “We want to capture FDI for capital development in the country.”
“The key is to increase the economic complexity of the country,” he added.
The project is in a pre-feasibility phase, with the Namibian Government and Hyphen preparing for an implementation agreement that will precede a full feasibility study.
“Bilateral government-to-government agreements are important,” said Mnyupe. He discussed how the country is working with agencies in Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium to deploy capital to speed the development. For example the Port of Rotterdam is collaborating with Namibia’s state-owned Namport to start preparing facilities to export ammonia, which can serve as a hydrogen carrier for transport by vessel.
Based on their projected output, the EU has shown intent to sign an MOU, to support the southern African country’s nascent green hydrogen industry and increase its importation of this fuel, at this year’s United Nations Climate Change Conference, being held in Egypt this November. The deal will also include provisions for Namibia’s minerals and resources.
Speaking to CNN about the upcoming green hydrogen project, Namibia’s first lady, Monica Geingos said, “Amongst many other benefits, I am excited about the vibrant economic mobilization that the business sector will benefit from as (Namibia) will be able to deploy its own resources to private-sector investment, which also enables increased risk appetite for sectors that foreign investors traditionally stay away from.”
The Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance (AGHA)
Namibia will however, not be the only African country that might stand to profit from green energy. Five other African countries including Egypt, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, and South Africa that have significant hydrogen potential, joined it to form the Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance (AGHA) at the first Hydrogen Global Assembly in Barcelona, Spain. The alliance is perched at the forefront of Africa’s developing green economy.