Green hydrogen: A path to energy independence or a ­national security risk?

Lukas Shefika
As Namibia explores the potential of green hydrogen as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting sustainable development, questions are being raised about the critical implications for national security.

With concerns around water resources, land use and security risks, the development of green hydrogen projects in Namibia requires careful consideration and planning. Here we examine the potential benefits and challenges of green hydrogen in Namibia and explore how the country can navigate these critical issues to ensure a sustainable and secure future.

1. Energy independence

Namibia, like many African countries, currently relies heavily on imported fossil fuels to meet its energy needs. This dependence on foreign oil and gas can create significant challenges, including vulnerability to price shocks and supply disruptions in global energy markets. Developing green hydrogen projects could help reduce this dependence and provide greater energy security and resilience for Namibia.

2. Water resources

Green hydrogen is produced using electrolysis, a process that requires large quantities of water. In Namibia, where water resources are already scarce, this could create significant challenges for both the availability and quality of water resources. Careful planning and management of water resources will be essential to ensure the sustainability of green hydrogen production..

3. Land use

Large-scale renewable energy projects, such as wind and solar farms, require significant land areas. In Namibia, where land is a precious resource, this could have implications for food security, biodiversity, and other land uses, particularly in rural areas. Balancing the potential benefits of green hydrogen production with the need to protect other important land uses will be essential.

4. Security risks

Hydrogen is a highly flammable gas that requires careful handling and transport. This could create security risks that need to be carefully managed, particularly if green hydrogen is exported to other countries. In addition, the infrastructure required to produce, store and transport green hydrogen could also be vulnerable to physical or cyber attacks, highlighting the need for robust security measures.

5. Economic benefits

Developing green hydrogen projects in Namibia could also create significant economic benefits, including job creation and increased investment. The production of green hydrogen could also help diversify the country’s economy and reduce its dependence on resource extraction industries, such as mining.

6. International cooperation

As a global issue, the development of green hydrogen requires international cooperation and collaboration. Namibia can benefit from partnerships with other countries and international organisations to develop the necessary expertise, technology, and financing for green hydrogen projects. These partnerships could also help address some of the critical security risks associated with green hydrogen production and transport.

In conclusion, the development of green hydrogen in Namibia offers significant opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and supporting sustainable development. However, careful planning and management of resources, land use, security risks, and international cooperation will be essential to ensuring the sustainable and secure development of green hydrogen in Namibia.

* Lukas Shefika is a candidate for a Master of Arts in Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Namibia.