Namibia devising green hydrogen strategy

Rule book for all stakeholders under discussion
Namibia has attracted overwhelming interest from potential investors around the production of green hydrogen. 
Jemima Beukes
Namibia is open to looking beyond the Tsau //Khaeb National Park for potential sites to unlock green hydrogen opportunities in the country, deputy mines minister Kornelia Shilunga has said.

In 2021, Namibia awarded Hyphen Hydrogen Energy the bid for the development of the country’s first large-scale vertically integrated green hydrogen project in the national park.

Shilunga said they are currently crafting a green hydrogen road map and strategy that will provide a granular vision for Namibia and the regional hydrogen ecosystem.

She said they are also discussing an implementation agreement with Hyphen for the development and construction of the landmark N$170 billion green hydrogen project.

"The strategy will serve as a rule book for all participants, state actors and non-state actors equally. The strategy and road map have the potential to unlock further land parcels beyond the Tsau //Khaeb National Park as well as other potential upstream and downstream industries for the country," she said.

Significant benefits

According to James Mnyupe, presidential economic advisor, Namibia has, in the meantime, observed overwhelming interest from potential investors in the production of green hydrogen. As such, Namibia will announce more partnerships for the project at COP27.

Once the project takes off in Namibia, it will significantly impact the lives of Namibians – especially the logistics industry.

The project will see 34-tonne truck payloads of product being moved between the site and Lüderitz port on a daily basis.

About 7 800 tonnes of abnormal loads of turbine blades will be transported over a period of four years, while 120 340 tonnes of water will be transported over one-and-a-half years on 220 trucks daily.

He added that 200 buses will be required daily for return trips for 292 000 people over four years, while 55 000 tonnes of turbine foundations will be transported over the same period.

Mnyupe said Namibia is one of the ten most climate vulnerable countries in Africa and that in eight of these countries, at least 60% of the population is employed in the agricultural sector.

"Since 2010, the number of protests and riots in Africa over water resources has multiplied by 40%. And while almost three-quarters of African countries have achieved the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13 on climate, no European Union (EU) or North American countries are on track to achieve the same."

We’re working

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has only a 52% average energy access rate in the region. This leaves member states in dire need of energy, which could be addressed by renewable energy endeavours such as the green hydrogen project in Namibia. This was said by Kuda Ndhlukula, the executive director of the South Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (SACREE) during the two-day conference on Socio-Economic Opportunities of Hydrogen for the SADC region.

The region’s installed energy capacity is still largely dominated by coal-fired plants, mainly from South Africa. The share of coal decreased from 74% to approximately 60%, while hydropower remained constant at 21%.

"Recent investment in renewable energy technologies and commissioned gas-fired power plants increased their share as primary energy sources in the generation mix, and as at the end of August 2022, the 12 mainland member states participating in the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) network had an installed generation capacity of 69 246 megawatts and an operating capacity of 47 024 megawatts against a peak demand and reserve of 49 927 megawatts," he said.

Electricity matters

Ndhlukula added that, against this background, the region has a generation capacity shortfall of 2 903 megawatts and, at the same time, only four member states (Angola, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia) are operating with excess capacity.

However, the excess capacity in Angola and Tanzania cannot be accessed by other member states due to inadequate transmission capacity and missing interconnectors linking them to the other nine member states, and as such, the generation capacity shortfall for the nine interconnected member states stands at 4 526 megawatts.

"Green hydrogen will require a massive build-out of renewable energy as a low-cost source of electricity and all indications are that Southern African countries have pristine conditions for this. Good resources alone are not enough for this, because like most energy resources, there are logistical challenges of taking the resource to where the demand is. There will be a need for robust soft and hard infrastructure," he pointed out.

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