“As a government, our role is to facilitate the development of our green and blue economies – and to that end, we have decided to prioritize the urgent development of green hydrogen assets in Namibia to accelerate the decarbonization of our energy system, ”President Hage Geingob said at a leaders’ meeting on the sidelines of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland.
Diamonds, minerals, uranium, natural heritage, national parks: Namibia’s potential is immense. Known as the land of endless horizons, vast distances and epic landscapes, yet Namibia has the second lowest population density in the world after Mongolia, with just 2.5 million people. It is immensely large, and yet completely empty. The availability of land is therefore not a constraint to the development of large-scale renewable energies, including green hydrogen.
The country urgently needs it, as the effects of climate change created by the phenomenon known as El Niño are increasingly causing extreme weather conditions such as floods, prolonged droughts and land degradation. In a report published in July 2021, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) recalls the consequences of the drought in Namibia. Among them are the deaths of livestock, declining agricultural production, food insecurity and especially shortages of drinking water.
It was with these issues in mind that the government launched the initiative: Southern Corridor Development (SCDI) in the Kharas region, the southernmost region of Namibia. The most iconic project of which is the first large-scale green hydrogen project, worth $ 9.4 billion. At COP26, the government announced that it had chosen the Franco-German consortium Hyphen Hydrogen Energy as the preferred bidder.
The project, located in Tsau / Khaeb National Park, will produce around 300,000 tonnes of green hydrogen per year in this African country, which will cover both national and international needs. Initially, 2 GW of renewable electricity generation will be implemented to produce green hydrogen with further phases planned to expand to 5 GW and 3 GW of electrolyzer capacity. “Tsau // Khaeb National Park is among the top five sites in the world for the production of low cost hydrogen, benefiting from a combination of onshore wind and solar resources co-located near the sea and roads of land export to the global market, ”explained Marco Raffinetti, CEO of Hyphen Hydrogen Energy.
For Nangula Uaandja, CEO of the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Council, “this is exactly the type of investment the council aims to attract as it is directly aligned with our ambition to unlock opportunities that drive the economy forward. , and above all improves the quality of life of all Namibians, he argues. This is a landmark project that will allow the country to create an average of 15,000 direct jobs over the next four years and 3,000 permanent direct jobs over the 40-year operating period, while contributing to d other efforts to stimulate economic recovery. “
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Last August, the country signed a formal partnership with Germany to conduct feasibility studies around hydrogen and thus train professionals in the sector. Germany aims to become the world number one in hydrogen technologies and plans to invest 9 billion euros by 2030. Studies carried out in Namibia should allow the export of hydrogen to Germany from the South African country. James Mnyupe said that although the focus is on exporting to Europe, the ambition is also to sell part of the production to neighboring countries, in order to “take advantage of the vision that our leaders have for the African Continental Free Trade Area ”. “Many of our neighbors have contacted us – Angola, South Africa and Botswana – to ask how this project can be integrated into the Southern African power pool,” he said.
The announcement of the project comes as South Africa also seeks to develop green hydrogen projects in a new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) located in Boegoebaai, across the Namibian border. President Cyril Ramaphosa has argued that Boegoebaai could bring South Africa and Namibia closer together as the two southern African countries seek to secure export market share due to the growing global appetite for l green hydrogen and by-products. As a sign that the country is thinking big, a Namibian green hydrogen research institute was created and then integrated into the University of Namibia. Objective: accelerate research and development at the local level and train qualified professionals to meet the needs of local businesses throughout the green hydrogen value chain.
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