Namibia could export hydrogen off-take to region

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Namibia could export hydrogen off-take to region

Edgar Brandt

Specific initiatives being investigated between Namibia and Germany include whether NamPower could off-take cheap clean dispatchable electricity from the first green hydrogen project to satisfy domestic needs and possibly in future even on-sell excess electricity into the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP). This is according to Presidential Economic Advisor and Namibia’s green hydrogen commissioner James Mnyupe. 

Speaking to New Era on the sidelines of Germany’s green hydrogen envoy Rainer Baake’s courtesy call at State House this week, Mnyupe noted Germany may also investigate the possibility of designing market mechanisms to support the early off-take of green ammonia from Namibia. This would ensure that overtime scale and technology improvements make Namibia’s green ammonia competitive with grey ammonia. 

Green ammonia production is where the process of making ammonia is 100% renewable and carbon-free. Grey ammonia is mainly produced from natural gas and is used as fertiliser and in different industrial processes. Green ammonia is drawing global interest as a stable way to transport hydrogen, with promising areas of application, including marine fuels and power generation.

Baake is a the special envoy appointed by the German Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Change, Robert Habeck. Baake is an ex-secretary of state on energy and has been appointed to deepen collaboration between the Namibian mines and energy ministry and its German counterpart. 

Habeck, who is also the German vice chancellor, is eager to see the German industry acquire Namibian green molecules and at the same time would like to assist Namibia obtain climate neutrality and energy security in the process. 

Baake is in Namibia to consult with government officials, the electricity industry, and other stakeholders. He is also scheduled to visit the site in the southern part of the country where the green hydrogen project is planned. 

Meanwhile, Olayinka Arowolo, Chief Executive Officer of Nabirm, a local exploration firm, pointed out that most of all the hydrogen produced each year, at least in the United States, is used for refining petroleum, treating metals, producing fertiliser, and processing foods. 

“Yes, hydrogen energy has enormous potential. The emissions-free fuel could help decarbonise heavy industry, replace natural gas, and store renewable energy, paving the way for a truly net-zero world. As such, it represents a multitrillion-dollar market opportunity,” said Arowolo. 

An impending deal with the European Union (EU) to prop up Namibia’s ambitious green hydrogen sector and at the same time reduce the economic bloc’s own dependence on Russian energy was reported earlier this week. 

This deal will result in Namibia diversifying its potential export market into Europe for the green ammonia when it is scheduled to start producing in 2025/26. This is anticipated to open up new sources of concessionary capital (foreign direct investment) to help fund the Namibian hydrogen industry. 

International news agency, Reuters, this week reported on Namibia’s possible hydrogen deal with the EU. Reuters quoted director general of the National Planning Commission Obeth Kandjoze, as saying “work was underway for a deal on green hydrogen.” 

“Hydrogen has long been touted as a less emissions-heavy alternative to fossil fuels, but while it has seen some uptake in the EU, chiefly in heavy industry and transportation, high costs and a lack of infrastructure have limited consumption, and the fuel covers just 2% of the bloc’s energy needs,” Reuters stated.