Namibia joins forces with Germany to unlock its green hydrogen potential

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Namibia joins forces with Germany to unlock its green hydrogen potential

Earlier this year, the World Bank report indicated that Africa may be considered energy poor as about 85% of people in sub-Saharan Africa lack access to clean cooking, accounting for 35% of the global access deficit.

Yet, the continent is richly endowed with renewable resources among which is green hydrogen that can accelerate the rate of access to energy. In fact, the German statement predicted that Namibia’s green hydrogen could be “the most competitive in the world”.

In light of this, the German Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek has signed the joint communique of intent with Namibia National Planning Commission’s (NPC) director-general, Obeth Kandjoze.

Per the agreement, the German ministry will provide 40 million euros ($47m) from its economic stimulus package to drive the cooperation. Namibia will publish its hydrogen strategy in November with the goal of exporting green hydrogen by 2025.

“High wind speeds in Namibia mean that the generation of wind power is particularly profitable. Solar power harbors an even greater potential thanks to over 3,500 hours of sunshine per year. This is almost twice as much as Germany has to offer.” Karliczek said.

Going by her prediction, hydrogen costs in Namibia could reach 1.5-2 euros ($1.9-2.4) per kg. This would “be a huge locational advantage for hydrogen made in Namibia”.

“We, therefore, think that one kilogram of hydrogen from Namibia will eventually cost between €1.50 and €2. This would be the most competitive price in the world, which would be a huge locational advantage for hydrogen ‘made in Namibia,” she added.

According to the minister, the race to sign up for hydrogen technologies and sites is on. Germany’s National Hydrogen Council has forecast its demand could reach 1.7 billion tonnes per year, excluding refineries. “This estimate underlines that we need large amounts of hydrogen and we need it quickly and at low cost. Namibia can provide both.”

Kandjoze said Namibia was “particularly susceptible” to climate change especially as two-thirds of the country’s electricity is hinged on hydropower.

Stefan Kaufmann, Innovation Commissioner for Green Hydrogen and Member of the Bundestag, said a hydrogen-based economy would be successful if both countries worked together to unlock the potential of hydrogen as an energy carrier. This would help both deliver on the climate goals of the Paris Agreement.

To begin, he said the first step would be a feasibility study. The outcome of this would inform joint pilot projects and provide capacity building. “The feasibility study is aimed at exploring the potential of a green hydrogen industry, including innovative seawater desalination technologies, in Namibia as well as possibilities of hydrogen export to Germany,” Kaufmann said.

Desalination and green hydrogen production

Due to the effects of climate change, droughts have made water scarce; hence, hydrogen production would have to use seawater. Despite the need to desalinate this, the two sides expect costs to be low.

At the core of the German-Namibian partnership is seawater desalination. If the two partners are able to offer solutions for seawater desalination and hydrogen production under the extreme conditions of the aridest country in sub-Saharan Africa, they can provide a blueprint for other regions and perhaps lay the basis for a global scale-up of the hydrogen economy.

While desalination will play a role, Kaufmann also said the initiative would examine “the opportunities offered by innovative seawater electrolysis where green hydrogen is generated directly from seawater.” Having set its economic plan, for 2021 to 2025 Namibia could “produce highly competitive green ammonia” according to analysis from the World Bank.

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