Land approved for hydrogen pilot project

• Green hydrogen pilot on horizon
A Namibia-Belgium joint venture plans to set up a hydrogen pilot plant in Walvis Bay.
Leandrea Louw
The Walvis Bay municipality has granted in-principle approval to reserve 20 hectares of Portion 8 of Farm 58 for a joint-venture company eager to establish a hydrogen pilot plant at the harbour town.

In April, Cleanergy Namibia - a Namibian company, according to documentation provided - indicated in a letter that it wished to establish a hydrogen pilot plant in Walvis Bay.

“They have presented their developmental proposal for the envisaged hydrogen project to council and technical department at various occasions, which gave good insight into the proposed project”, councillor Richard Hoaeb, chairperson of the management committee of the Walvis Bay municipality, noted.

The company is a joint venture between Ohlthaver & List and CMB Tech, a Belgium company, which aims to explore and develop green hydrogen production projects in Namibia. They have identified Walvis Bay for the pilot hub with the aim to construct the plant by the end of 2023. This initiative responds to the second Harambee Prosperity Plan as announced by the government while investigating the feasibility of green hydrogen as a strategic intent.

Hoaeb explained that the township establishment of Farm 58 has been partially completed and the registration of portions is now with the deeds office.

“However, the 20 hectares required by the applicant must first be subdivided from Portion 8 of remainder Farm 58 before final allocation can be considered by council for long-term lease or alienation.”

Some of the recommendations made by council is that Cleanergy, at its own risk and at its own cost, conduct an environmental impact assessment, environmental management plan, risk management plan and any other statutory assessment, studies and processes and obtain clearance from the environmental commissioner.

“In addition, the company attends to the subdivision of the 20 hectares of Portion 8 of remainder Farm 58 at own cost. Once the above recommendations have been completed, a further comprehensive report with recommendations should be submitted to council for consideration.”

Councillor Buddy Bramwell expressed concern whether there is enough space for all the planned developments at Farm 58. “It seems to me that we are offering land on Farm 58 to everybody. We had a company come in and we said they could have 200 hectares. Now we are looking at 20 hectares, is it there?”

Additionally, councillor Ryan Gordon suggested that when developments take place in Walvis Bay, developers should make use of local businesses.

“This should be added to the already existing terms and conditions. We also have engineers and welders here in Walvis Bay, but people who usually come from other towns want to make use of their own people. We have to look at this as well.”

Walvis Bay mayor Trevino Forbes agreed, stating that the reason council allows these developments is for the benefit of the residents.

“We are also stressing the importance of skills transfer rather than bringing in other people, so we are definitely looking at that.”