In a remarkable move that signals a significant shift toward clean energy, the President of Namibia has recently put pen to paper to secure a promising $10 billion deal, this unprecedented agreement involves Hyphen Energy, a leading German company, working hand in hand with the Namibian government to produce “green hydrogen”. Advocates of this innovative energy source hold it in high esteem, envisaging it as the fuel of the future that could fundamentally transform the energy landscape.
The deal reached a successful conclusion last Friday, with Hyphen Energy and the Namibian government partnering to initiate a project of massive scale in the Tsau Khaeb National Park. The intention, contingent upon the outcome of a feasibility study, is for Hyphen Energy to construct an intricate network of factories, pipelines, and ports. The overarching ambition of this large-scale endeavor is to achieve the production of 2 million tons of ammonia by 2030, a substance that has the potential to be used as an alternative fuel source.
This ambitious project has been designed to harness the power of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, in the production of ammonia. Moreover, the operation will also generate oxygen and electricity, the latter of which will be utilized to fulfill local consumption needs.
James Mnyupe, the Green Hydrogen Commissioner of Namibia and economic adviser to the President, shared some insights with Voice of America regarding this venture. Hyphen Energy, he explained, has already sealed agreements with various international companies, hailing from Germany, England, South Korea, and Japan. These deals will ensure a ready market for the main products of the project.
According to Mnyupe, the green hydrogen initiative is intended to be a vertically integrated project. He elaborated, “Typically, in various parts of the world, different entities might be responsible for different aspects of a project – one might manage port development, another pipeline, yet another renewable energy. However, for this venture, we envisage a model where all these components fall under a single umbrella, thus epitomizing a vertically integrated project.”
Marco Raffinetti, CEO of Hyphen, acknowledged the daunting task of procuring funding for green hydrogen projects. Nevertheless, he emphasized the imperative nature of such investments to counter the global carbon output from fossil fuels, a primary driver of climate change. Raffinetti offered an optimistic perspective, drawing parallels with solar energy – an expensive proposition two decades ago, but a much more affordable one today – and speculated that green hydrogen might follow a similar downward cost trajectory.
However, the swift progress of the project, which is being driven by the presidential office, has attracted some criticism. A number of Namibian political commentators are questioning whether the project truly has a national consensus. Pendapala Hangala, a political analyst, voiced concerns to VOA over the speed at which this substantial project, with a timeline spanning 40 to 45 years, is being pushed forward.
The green hydrogen initiative in Namibia is considered the largest of its kind in the sub-Saharan region. As other countries, including Morocco, also embark on their own green hydrogen projects, commentators in Namibia have raised questions over the country’s competitive edge, particularly given the geographical proximity of other nations to Europe, the envisaged primary consumer of green hydrogen exports. These queries undoubtedly underscore the complexities and challenges ahead, even as Namibia takes a decisive step towards a future powered by green energy.