Under the leadership of Minister of Petroleum, Mines, and Energy Abdessalam Mohamed Salh, Mauritania has unveiled plans to develop hydrogen projects capable of generating an impressive 80 GW of electrolyser capacity.
The country aims to establish itself as a prominent green hydrogen hub, leveraging its abundant solar and wind energy resources and advantageous proximity to Europe. However, two key challenges stand in the way: securing financing and building the necessary infrastructure.
To overcome these challenges, the Mauritanian government is actively seeking investment from global players, including Germany and the World Bank. While Mauritania recognizes the potential of cleaner projects like renewable energy and green hydrogen, the availability of financing in Africa is limited compared to regions like Europe, where projects receive subsidies and low-cost financing. To bridge this gap, the government is pursuing partnerships with Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and exploring avenues for external assistance.
The scale of the investment required for Mauritania’s hydrogen projects is estimated to be around $80 billion, surpassing the country’s current economic capacity. The government is rallying international support through initiatives like the ‘Nouakchott message,’ a set of recommendations aimed at mobilizing the international investment community to enable the development of the African green economy. The World Bank and Germany have already expressed keen interest in participating in the generation of competitively priced green hydrogen in Africa.
Despite the immense potential, Mauritania’s large-scale hydrogen projects are still in the planning stages. Final investment decisions have not been made, primarily due to the projects’ technical complexity and infrastructure demands. The government is actively working on a comprehensive green hydrogen code aligned with global standards to attract further investment.
The plan for Mauritania’s hydrogen projects encompasses three phases spanning from 2024 to 2027. These phases involve an increased utilization of gas, a reduction in the use of heavy fuel oil for energy production and transportation, and the integration of renewable energy sources into the electrical system. By 2030, the goal is to replace gas used for electricity production with green hydrogen, with any surplus being liquefied and exported to other markets.
In terms of infrastructure, bp, in collaboration with Mauritanian authorities, has identified suitable sites for its hydrogen project. However, the existing port infrastructure in West Africa is insufficient to accommodate specific machinery and supplies required for hydrogen projects. To address this, the Mauritanian government has initiated a feasibility study to upgrade Nouakchott’s port and establish a special economic zone capable of accommodating local and foreign companies. The study is expected to be completed by 2025, with construction scheduled for completion between 2028 and 2030.
Mauritania’s pursuit of hydrogen projects holds immense promise for the country’s energy future. The upcoming MSGBC Oil, Gas, & Power 2023 event will serve as a platform for the Mauritanian government, international organizations, and private entities to collaborate on unlocking the country’s vast hydrogen potential and shaping a sustainable energy landscape.