Africa and Europe set to be the dynamos for the global green hydrogen economy
Africa’s total announced electrolyzer pipeline capacity has reached 114 gigawatts (GW), with 61% of this tied to countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to Rystad Energy analysis. This African region has an announced electrolyzer pipeline of about 70GW, with Mauritania covering 50% of the total, followed by South Africa and Namibia. Sub-Saharan Africa holds a highly strategic position for the development of a successful green hydrogen economy as South Africa sits on about 90% of the world’s global platinum group metals reserves – critical for the production of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzers.
The major impediment to building these mega projects and associated infrastructure will be investment. According to Rystad Energy research, just 13 megawatts (MW) of the planned 114 GW has reached a final investment decision to date. The continent’s access to land, low labor costs and renewable power potential has been attracting attention from further afield, with Germany signing offtake deals with Namibia and South Africa. Norway has taken a different approach by providing $8 million of funding to Scatec, a Norwegian renewable company, to develop green hydrogen projects in Egypt.
These initial moves are set to accelerate as Europe struggles with an ongoing energy crisis and seeks new partners. Part of the recently released European Union Green Industrial Plan seeks to promote renewable energy and green hydrogen projects across Africa, with an eye on establishing sustainable investment facilitation agreements to attract and expand regional investments. Germany alone intends to import 50% to 70% of its hydrogen to feed its domestic demand by 2030, with much being sourced from Africa. With plans to construct 17 GW to 21 GW of hydrogen-ready gas-fired power plants by 2030, Germany’s commitment to the green hydrogen economy is substantial. To facilitate imports, Germany recently launched a €900 million ($957 million) auction scheme called H2Global, securing purchase guarantees for hydrogen producers outside of Europe exclusively. According to Rystad Energy analysis, African states are currently in the best position to supply green hydrogen in the quantities Europe requires.
The global green hydrogen economy is beginning to take shape, with Africa and Europe becoming a dynamo of production and use. Africa’s unparalleled mineral reserves are critical for electrolyzer production and the region’s fantastic renewable potential combined with Europe’s prodigious production and import targets will not just alter energy flows, they will create them anew,
Egypt and Morocco
According to Rystad Energy research, there are a total of 52 green hydrogen projects announced in Africa. The production curve shows a sharp increase after 2025 when these projects start ramping up production and reach 7.2 million tonnes by the end of 2035. Most of the announced projects will be producing ammonia as an end-product for export to Europe.
Egypt's unique geographical location at the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia, as well as its control of the Suez Canal, places the country in a strategic position to become a global green energy hub. With 21 projects in the pipeline, Egypt stands in top position in terms of green hydrogen-producing countries in Africa. Scatec struck an agreement with the Egyptian government for the development of a green ammonia facility producing up to 3 million tonnes per annum (tpa), which will be mainly exported to European and Asian markets. Another project looking for an export market in Europe is the Masdar Ain-Sokhna project, which will be developed by Masdar and Hassan Allam Holding Group using a 4 GW electrolyzer plant at SCZONE (Suez Canal Economic Zone), producing 2.3 million tpa of ammonia. Similarly, Globeleq announced it will develop a 3.6-GW electrolyzer project at SCZONE, producing ammonia for export to Europe and Asia. Other major green hydrogen projects are the ACME green ammonia project (400,000 tpa), the Fortescue-Egypt-gH2 project (300,000 tpa), and the SCZONE-ReNew Power project (200,000 tpa).
Morocco's Amun project, with an annual hydrogen capacity of 900,000 tpa and developed by CWP Global along with North American EPC player Bechtel, is the largest in Morocco. The Guelmim-Oued Nour project, announced by Total Eren, will be capable of producing 710,000 tpa of green hydrogen. Other projects contributing to green hydrogen in Morocco include the Hevo Ammonia Morocco project (31,000 tpa), the Masen Green Hydrogen project (8,400 tpa), and the Ben Guerir project (125 tpa).
Geographical proximity to the Mauritanian deepwater port of Nouadhibou and the large European market for exports make the green hydrogen project on Mauritania potentially very lucrative. Contributing to Mauritania’s pipeline capacity are the Aman project (with a production of 1.7 million tpa), the Nour Electrolyzer project (1.2 million tpa), and the Masdar-Infinity-Conjuncta green hydrogen project (1.36 million tpa). The $40-billion Aman green hydrogen project is being developed by CWP Global and is the largest green hydrogen project in Africa. It will have a 15 GW electrolyzer capacity, powered by 30 GW of combined solar and wind. The Nour project developed by Africa-focused transitional energy group Chariot Limited and Total Eren is the second-largest green hydrogen project in Mauritania with the potential to reach up to 10 GW of electrolysis. The $34-billion Masdar-Infinity-Conjuncta green hydrogen project expects to produce 8 million tpa of hydrogen derivatives using a 10-GW electrolyzer capacity. The project will have a strong connection with Germany in terms of both a technology provider and a potential offtaker. However, given their size, if either of these projects gets delayed, Mauritania’s target may be in question. Also, Mauritania’s Socieetee Nationale Industrielle et Mianieere signed a memorandum of understanding with ArcelorMittal to establish a palletization plant and a direct reduced iron (DRI) production plant in the country to produce 2.5 million tpa of green steel per annum.
With the announced 3-GW Tsau Khaeb and the 2.5-GW Tumoneni projects, Namibia is gaining momentum in the green hydrogen economy. Namibian player Hyphen Hydrogen Energy will develop Tsau Khaeb, targeting a phased production of around 300,000 tpa with an estimated investment of $9.4 billion. The necessary feasibility, engineering and permitting processes are ongoing, with the hope of enabling construction to commence in January 2025 and commissioning of the first phase expected by the end of 2026.
The 42-MW Daures Green Hydrogen Village project secured a $15 million grant from the German Ministry of Education and Research to implement a pilot project over the course of 18 months. Also, French independent power producer HDF Energy aims to build the 50-MW Swakopmund project – Africa’s first integrated solar-hydrogen project. The developer awarded SLR Environmental Consulting the environmental impact assessment work. Namibia is also eyeing the development of three hydrogen valleys to be located at Kharas, Walvis Bay port and Kunene, respectively, where the goal is to produce green ammonia as an end-product for export.
Djibouti, South Africa and others
Djibouti has good solar, wind and geothermal resources. CWP Global signed an agreement with the government to develop a 10-GW renewable energy and green hydrogen hub. With this project, CWP Global becomes the biggest developer in the Africa . Fortescue Future Industries also signed a partnership with the Djiboutian government to conduct studies on the development of green hydrogen at two sites – one in north-Goubet and the other in Obock.
In South Africa, projects focusing on sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) are attracting significant attention. Sasol and a consortium comprising Linde, Enertrag and Navitas Holdings collaborated to produce SAF with the support of the German government’s H2Global auction platform. Sasol is exploring a feasibility study at the Secunda Synfuel plant and opportunities for possible export to Germany. Hive Hydrogen announced a $4.6-billion, 780,000-tpa Green Ammonia Plant with its dedicated power supply at the Coega Special Economic Zone alongside the Port of Ngqura. The German government has also approved a €15 million subsidy for chemicals company Linde to fund the HySHiFT renewable hydrogen project in Mpumalanga, which is being pursued in collaboration with Sasol, Enertrag and Hydregen Energy. The companies plan to construct a facility producing e-kerosene using a 200-MW electrolyzer plant.
Other Sub-Saharan countries have also announced green hydrogen projects, including Angola’s 300-MW green ammonia facility being developed by Sonangol that will export around 280,000 tpa of green ammonia to Germany, and Kenya’s 300-MW green ammonia and green fertilizer facility powered by existing geothermal energy.
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