Namibia Aiming to be a Superpower in Green Hydrogen Market

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Namibia is among those nations seeking to take advantage of the green energy rush and positioning itself as a leader in Africa’s emerging market African for green hydrogen, which is made using renewable electricity. With 300 sunny days a year and vicious winds that rip along 1500 km coast, renewable experts and government say the southwest African nation has outsize potential for solar and wind energy production.

Experts agree that green hydrogen, a carbon-friendly nontoxic gas produced using renewable energy, will play a key role in achieving a green gas-neutral economy by 2050, helping the nation to combat global warming. Namibia has already received $45.3 million in funding from the German government for research, feasibility studies, and pilot projects related to green hydrogen.

The German government says Namibia’s abundant natural resources could help it produce the world’s cheapest green hydrogen which is crucial for cutting down carbon emissions to the net-zero benchmark by 2050.

Noel Tomnay, the global head for hydrogen consulting at Wood Mackenzie said Namibia is among those few countries which have a large potential for renewable energy. He also pointed to significant challenges for the growth in the renewable sector – Infrastructure, suitable water, and the uncertainty associated far a nation that is developing such a project at a large scale.

Several global players in the renewable energy sector have expressed interest after the Namibian government put out a request for proposals to develop two adjacent sites for desalination plants in Tsau//Khaeb National Park in the southwestern part of the country. These sites would also include solar and wind farms as well as electrolyzers. 

Renewable energy produced from the solar and wind facilities will be used in separating hydrogen molecules from desalinated water. The produced hydrogen molecules in their pure form or in derivative green ammonia can be used to make sustainable fuel, among other products.

The project estimated at a total worth of $9.4 billion, is expected to produce 300,000 tons of green hydrogen every year. The first phase of the project encompasses the production of 2 GW of renewable electricity generation capacity to produce green hydrogen, and further phases in the late 2020s will expand the combined renewable generation capacity to 5 GW and 3 GW of electrolyzer capacity. 

The government received nine bids from six developers for the development of the sites, including Australia’s Fortescue Metals Group Ltd., South Africa’s Sasol Ltd., and Germany’s Enertrag AG–a shareholder in Hyphen Hydrogen Energy (Pty) Ltd., which has been awarded the sites.

Namibia is the latest sub-Saharan African country competing in the global race for green hydrogen, with major natural resources to strengthen its position as a potential green energy hub.

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