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Africa’s extraordinary green hydrogen potential

According to the study, large scale green hydrogen generation will enable Africa to supply 25 million tons of green hydrogen to global energy markets. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

A new study by the European Investment Bank, International Solar Alliance and the African Union has detailed the staggering potential of green hydrogen in Africa as well as the steps required to achieve this

Supported by the Government of Mauritania, HyDeal and UCLG Africa, the ‘Africa’s Extraordinary Green Hydrogen Potential’ report revealed that harnessing Africa’s solar energy to produce 50mn tons of green hydrogen a year by 2035 can help secure global energy supply, create jobs, decarbonise heavy industry, enhance global competitiveness and transform access to clean water and sustainable energy.  

Representing the first detailed research of the feasible development of green hydrogen across the continent, the new study combines analysis of investment opportunities focusing on three hubs: Mauritania - Morocco, southern Africa, and Egypt with a roadmap of technical, economic, environmental and financial solutions to unlock commercial development.

Ambroise Fayolle, vice president of the European Investment Bank, commented, “Africa has the best renewable energy in the world and scaling up production of green hydrogen can transform access to low-cost electricity and clean water. Unlocking Africa’s green hydrogen potential will require close cooperation between public, private and financial partners. The new ‘Africa’s Extraordinary Green Hydrogen Potential’ study outlines what can be achieved and what needs to be done. The European Investment Bank is pleased to work with African and international partners to enable large scale green hydrogen to become a reality.”

Ajay Mathur, director general, International Solar Alliance, added, “Solar photovoltaic technology has provided us with the cheapest electricity. Thanks to this low-cost electricity and decreasing electrolyser costs, the next step is providing access to a clean fuel, cheaper than all the current fossil fuels. It will enable us to decarbonise the power sector and most hard-to-abate sectors – fertilisers, steel manufacturing, and refineries.”

Thierry Lepercq, president of HyDeal, remarked, “As the global energy and climate crises unfold, mass-scale competitive green hydrogen is ready to provide energy security, affordability and decarbonisation. Integrated hydrogen hubs bringing together upstream, midstream and upstream players on the basis of long-term off-take contracts are building powerful business models. Pioneering African countries such as Mauritania are showing the way, proving that Africa can help the world with green hydrogen – ensuring for itself a future of industrial development, fast and clean growth for all.”

The research suggests three requirements to enable 50 million tons of green hydrogen to be produced in Africa by 2035:

• National planning, regulation and incentive schemes need to mobilise private sector investment

• Pilot projects need to show successful green hydrogen generation, storage, distribution and use at both demonstration and commercial scale

• Market-based partnerships are needed to enable mass-scale domestic and international off-take and demand for green hydrogen, and increase cooperation to design, finance, build and operate green hydrogen production, storage and distribution infrastructure.

Approximately US$1.06 trillion green hydrogen investment can deliver the equivalent of more than one third of Africa’s current energy consumption, boost GDP, improve clean water supply and empower communities.

The new study outlines how production and transmission of green hydrogen can lead to investment yielding seven exajoules of energy and a correlative massive increase in GDP, creating hundreds of thousands of permanent and skilled jobs across Africa.

The new analysis estimates that green hydrogen investment could reduce carbon emissions in Africa by 40%, replacing 500mn tons of CO2 a year.

According to the study, large scale green hydrogen generation will enable Africa to supply 25 million tons of green hydrogen to global energy markets equivalent to 15% of current gas used in the European Union.

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