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Egypt deal takes its green hydrogen ambitions to the next level

Egypt, which will host COP27 on November 7-18, has penned a Memorandum of Understanding to set up a US$8 billion plant with the capacity to produce 220,000 tons of green hydrogen annually.

By Patrick Nelle, bird story agency

At the end of July, the Egyptian New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZONE) and Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) on the one hand, and Indian renewable energy company ReNew Power, on the other, penned an MoU to set up a plant with an annual production capacity of 220,000 tons of green hydrogen - a USD 8 billion investment, according to Yehia Zaki, chairman of the Suez Canal Economic zone.

"The first phase will be in 2023-2025, about $710 million aims to produce 100,000 tons of green ammonia and 20,000 tons of green hydrogen. The production capacity in the second phase during 2025-2029 aims to produce 200,000 tons of green hydrogen and million tons of green ammonia with estimated investments of about $7,147 billion," the SCZONE's Zaki said at the time, according to the SCZONE website.

The Egyptian move is a significant step in Cairo’s push to establish Egypt as a green hydrogen powerhouse and a major supplier of energy to the region. The plan also pushes the North African nation into the top three green hydrogen developers globally, thanks to its role in a huge 11.62 GW green hydrogen power-generation masterplan. The scheme represents a massive USD 40 billion investment in this new energy source.

The plan is also part of Egypt’s 2035 Integrated Sustainable Energy Strategy, which aims to generate 42% of electricity from renewable resources by 2030.

In October 2021, Egypt's Electricity and Renewable Energy minister, Mohamed Shaker, revealed that the renewable energy share of the electricity produced by the country would reach 20 percent by the end of 2022. He also announced that green hydrogen would play a significant role in the 2035 Strategy.

Egypt deal takes its green hydrogen ambitions to the next level [Graphics: Hope Mukami]

The latest developments reflect a broader trend of Africa emerging as a major global green hydrogen supplier in the near future.

A thousand kilometres west of Egypt, on Africa’s Atlantic coast, Mauritania is in the process of building its own US$40 billion green hydroge facility. Labelled AMAN, the project has a total capacity of 30 gigawatts (GW), producing 110 terawatt hours (TWh) of electricity per annum, and is expected to produce 1.7 million tons of green hydrogen and 10 million tons of green ammonia. According to a press release dated May 24, a framework agreement for the further development of the AMAN project had been signed.

Signatories were the Mauritanian government and CWP, “one of the world’s leading developers of renewables and massive-scale green hydrogen projects,” stated the release.

AMAN's targeted output is almost three times the annual energy consumption of Morocco and could grow the country’s GDP by 50 to 60 percent by 2035, according to reports.

In the meantime, an MoU signed in April between Chariot Transitional Power and the port of Rotterdam in the Netherlands suggests the first green hydrogen exports for this country of 4.65 million are soon to become a reality.

“The MoU represents a first step towards establishing supply chains to import green hydrogen and ammonia to meet expected demand in the Netherlands and other countries in Northwest Europe” stated the release.

Chariot is the developer of Project Nour, another Mauritanian large green hydrogen project capable of generating 10 GW. The agreement secures exports from Project Nour production to Europe in the near future.

“Our green hydrogen project in Mauritania has the potential to establish the country as one of the cheapest producers of green hydrogen. Our ambition is to help the nation become one of the world’s main producers and exporters of green hydrogen. We look forward to announcing further developments with this project in due course”, commented Benoit Garrivier, Chariot Transitional Power CEO.

In Southern Africa, Namibia is pursuing a US$9.4 billion project that will generate 300,000 tons of green hydrogen per year intended for export markets, by 2026. Meanwhile, South Africa is seeking potential investors to implement a pipeline of green hydrogen projects worth US$17.8 billion, over the coming 10 years. Other countries like Nigeria, Kenya, and Niger, also have green hydrogen roadmaps.

According to the IEA Africa outlook 2022, Africa has huge potential to produce green hydrogen, thanks to its renewable power resources. With further cost declines, it is estimated that Africa has the potential to produce 5 000 megatonnes of hydrogen per year (at less than US$2 per kilogramme) — an amount that is the equivalent of the global total energy supply today, states the report.

Green hydrogen is hydrogen produced by splitting water by electrolysis, with the power used to do so sourced from clean energy sources. Electrolysis produces only hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is trapped for use while the oxygen is released into the atmosphere, with no negative impact.

Six African countries in May formally launched the African Green Hydrogen Alliance, an initiative first mooted at COP26 in Glasgow. The initiative will see Kenya, South Africa, Namibia, Egypt, Morocco and Mauritania "intensify collaboration to supercharge development of green hydrogen projects on the African continent" according to the Climate Champions online site.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa has almost unlimited potential for solar capacity (10 terawatts), and abundant wind (110 gigawatts). This puts the continent in a position to become a top player in global green hydrogen generation.

bird story agency


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