According to research from Rystad Energy, where 52 projects totaling 114 gigawatts of capacity are now in the pipeline, Africa is outpacing Australia in terms of actual plans for producing green hydrogen.
The firm discovered that electrolyzer-based projects that would split water into hydrogen and oxygen, using their renewable energy and metals resources, land, and low labor costs, had substantial plans in the West African nations of Mauritania, South Africa, and Namibia.
At least four green hydrogen projects are being carried out in Africa by Fortescue Future Industries, the clean energy division of Fortescue Metals Group.
South Africa holds about 90% of the world’s platinum group metal reserves, which are essential for the manufacture of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyzers, according to Rystad. This puts Sub-Saharan Africa in a highly strategic position for the development of a successful green hydrogen economy.
Although there are several green hydrogen projects being considered in Australia, very few of them are progressing further with development. Rystad claimed that African governments were in the greatest position to deliver green hydrogen in the proportions needed by Europe, despite the fact that Germany is targeting certain imports of green hydrogen from Australia, including from Andrew Forrest’s FFI.
Yet, Rystad noted that just 13 MW of the 114 GW of potential capacity in Africa had made a final investment decision up to this point, highlighting the financial barrier to building the mega-projects and the infrastructure required to support them.
According to Rajeev Pandey, a clean tech analyst at the company, “the global green hydrogen economy is beginning to take shape, with Africa and Europe becoming a dynamo of production and usage.”
He cited Africa’s “unparalleled” mineral resources, which would be necessary for the manufacture of electrolyzers, as well as the region’s potential for renewable energy.
He pointed out that the Green Deal Industrial Strategy of the European Union, which was unveiled this month, includes promoting green hydrogen and renewable energy projects in Africa.
By 2030, Germany alone aims to import 50 to 70% of the hydrogen it needs to meet domestic demand, with much of it coming from Africa as it decisively abandons Russian gas and accelerates efforts to decarbonize heavy industry, heavy transportation, and power generation.
By the end of the decade, it planned to construct 17GW to 21GW of petrol power plants that could run on hydrogen, according to Rystad.
By offering purchase guarantees for hydrogen producers outside of Europe, Germany’s €900 million ($1.46 billion) H2Global hydrogen auction program solves the cost disadvantage at the consumer end. It was approved by the federal minister for economic affairs and climate action in December 2021.
According to Rystad, Egypt is well-positioned to become a major hub for green energy because of its control over the Suez Canal and its location at the intersection of Africa, Europe, and Asia. It mentioned a number of projects that were in the works, such as one by FFI that called for 7.6 GW of renewable energy and was unveiled at the COP27 summit in November.
Before Christmas, Fortescue Metals’ executive chairman, Mr. Forrest, informed investors that the company would have five sustainable energy projects ready for approval.
FFI CEO Mark Hutchinson mentioned interesting project options in Namibia, Kenya, Morocco, and Egypt when addressing investors in February. The company is also collaborating with Queensland’s Incitec Pivot on a green ammonia project.
According to Rystad, FFI was also looking into two potential locations in Djibouti. Yet, the proposed $US40 billion AMAN project in Mauritania was cited as supporting the claim that CWP Global was the largest fuel developer in Africa.