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Where are Africa’s green hydrogen hotspots?

March 18, 2024
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  • Total and Chariot last week set out details of 10GW Project Nour
  • Morocco last week allocated 2.5million acres of public land
  • Egypt last month named developers for $40bn partnerships

 

Few financial institutions have been as effusive in their praise for Africa’s potential as a global green hydrogen powerhouse as the European Investment Bank.

This is understandable. Europe wants to position itself as a key partner for the green hydrogen market in Africa so that it can be a key importer of African green hydrogen takes off. The European Union’s REPowerEU plan that came into force in May 2023 includes commitments to import large quantities of green hydrogen from Africa.

The EIB research is part of that inter-continental charm offensive. The EIB reported in late 2022 that Africa could attract €1trn of investment into green hydrogen plants and distribution project by 2050; could produce green hydrogen at the competitive price of €2 per kilogram; and could produce up to 50 million tonnes of the fuel each year by 2035 if it takes full advantage of its solar potential. Those are big numbers.

Management consultancy McKinsey echoed this positive assessment in its ‘Global Energy Perspective 2023’ report in January 2024. It forecast that Africa could be a major exporter of green hydrogen due to its enviable solar and wind resources.

But how much progress are countries in Africa taking to unlock this potential? We have looked at the latest developments across the continent, with a particular focus on the eight members of the African Green Hydrogen Alliance. This includes the six original members – Egypt, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia and South Africa – as well as two recent additions: Angola and Ethiopia. This shows that African nations are spelling out their hydrogen strategies, and some are attracting major investors.

 

Major projects in North and West Africa

We can see the strongest development pipelines at present in Egypt and Morocco. The reasons for this demand in each country are slightly different, although clearly the geographical proximity of North Africa to southern Europe plays a role. It would be far easier to export large quantities of green hydrogen over a shorter distance.

In Egypt, we saw strong interest in green hydrogen before the country hosted the United Nations COP27 climate conference in Sharm El-Sheikh in 2022. But plans to grow Egypt’s hydrogen economy stretch back to its Vision 2030 strategy of 2016.

In summer 2023, the Egyptian government reported that it has signed more than 20 agreements with large companies, which are set to invest in green hydrogen projects worth $83bn. This includes several major projects in the Suez Canal region, which has strong renewable resources and a free-trade zone that aids developers.

The country also passed a Green Hydrogen Incentives Law on 27th January 2024 to give financial support to green hydrogen production schemes. And, in February, the government signed agreements with seven international developers for seven green hydrogen and renewables schemes worth a combined $40bn over ten years.

The developers were AMM Power, Bash Global, El Tokkel Geela, SK E&C Plant-C&C North Africa, Smart Energy and United Energy Group.

Meanwhile, the government in Morocco last week allocated 2.5million acres of land for green hydrogen projects, which it said would help make it a “competitive player” in the global market. This is the latest step in the Moroccan Agency for Investment & Export Development’s pledge to provide a “stable and clear framework for investors”. This follows Morocco’s Green Hydrogen Cluster plan launched in 2021.

The growth of green hydrogen should be seen as going hand-in-hand with Morocco’s goal for 10GW of installed renewables in 2030, which is estimated to provide power needed to produce up to one million tonnes of green hydrogen annually.

Its approach is having some success. Key projects include the 8GW White Dunes scheme by Falcon Capital Dakhla and Hydrogene de France; TAQA’s 6GW plant in the Dakhla-Oued Ed-Dahab region; and the AMUN complex that would be linked to 15GW of renewables. These all appear to be promising and ambitious schemes.

While we are discussing North Africa, we should also include an honourable mention for Algeria, which set out its national hydrogen roadmap in 2023. Its projects so far are small, including a 50MW pilot scheme with German development bank KfW, but the government has committed to announce four more pilot schemes later this year.

And finally, we couldn’t finish this North African section without including Mauritania. Mauritania is technically part of west Africa, but it feels worth looking at it along with Morocco and Algeria given that it is both countries’ southerly neighbour.

Last week, Total Energies and Chariot Energy set out plans for the 1.6GW first stage of their 10GW Project Nour green hydrogen complex in the country. Other huge projects in Mauritania including CWP Global’s 15GW AMAN complex, and a 10GW project by Conjuncta, Infinity Power and Masdar.

Mauritania reportedly has the potential for 12.5million tonnes of green hydrogen by 2035, and the government is pursuing a strategy to raise renewables to 60% of its energy mix by 2030. This could help establish the country in the global market.

 

Emerging export hubs in southern Africa

Governments are seeking to support growth in green hydrogen at the southern end of the continent too. For example, South Africa’s government approved its Green Hydrogen Commercialisation Strategy on 19th October, which includes pledges to support the development of both domestic and export hydrogen markets.

The government has also been working with major European nations: it signed a deal in June 2023 to establish a joint Hydrogen Taskforce with Germany. Current high-profile developments in South Africa include the 40GW Boegoebaai hydrogen cluster by ArcelorMittal and Sasol; and plants by HDF Energy and Hive Hydrogen.

In Namibia, the government has introduced its own green hydrogen strategy, which commits to attract $20bn of investment in the sector. The country has been having success, with projects such as the 3GW Tsau Khaeb complex by Hyphen Hydrogen Energy; the 2.5GW Tumoneni complex; the 50MW Renewstable Swakopmund by HDF Energy and EIB; and the 42MW Daures Green Hydrogen Village.

Finally, Angola has also sought to leverage connections with Germany, as it has signed a deal to begin exporting green hydrogen to the European country in 2024 from a 400MW hydro-powered production hub by oil company Sonangoal and German firms Gauff and Conjuncta. Angola is often defined as being in central Africa, but it is close enough to Namibia and South Africa to be in this sub-market.

 

East Africa Hydrogen Corridor

Newer markets for green hydrogen are emerging in East Africa, where countries are working together to develop the East Africa Hydrogen Corridor.

For example, Kenya launched its Green Hydrogen Strategy and Roadmap in September 2023, in which it set out its plans to expand in green hydrogen until 2032. This prioritises economic expansion, job opportunities and positive environmental stewardship. Key schemes include a 300MW green ammonia project by Fortescue; the KenGen Green Hydrogen complex; and another complex by HDF Energy.

Other emerging green hydrogen markets in east Africa include Djibouti, where the government has plans to accelerate the up-to-10GW Green Star Hydrogen Hub; and Ethiopia’s government is partnering on a complex with Fortescue Future Industries.

There is no shortage of political will or investor interest across the continent. But we will see which countries truly take the lead as green hydrogen plants reach financial close and, more importantly, enter commercial operations.

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