Namibia’s green hydrogen juggernaut has moved another step closer to fruition after four successful applicants for pilot projects were announced yesterday at the commencement of the inaugural two-day Green Hydrogen Conference in the capital.
This sets Namibia en route to achieving large-scale, low-cost renewable energy development, designing models for sustainably maximising fiscal revenue and local development in renewable energy investments as well as green ammonia production.
Announcing the successful applicants, the country’s green hydrogen commissioner James Mnyupe said the process attracted more than 20 pilot project applications that required Namibian and German partners to apply for funding to build green hydrogen projects in Namibia.
The successful applicants in the Erongo Valley are the Dâures project (agriculture), Namport applications (logistics), Cleanergy project (refuelling) and TransNamib project (logistics).
“We are of the opinion that Namibia has the potential for two to three green hydrogen valleys, with the one in the south being the most prominent one,” Mnyupe told the packed gathering.
Emanating from a joint communique of intent (JCOI) in August 2021 between the Namibian government and the German education and research ministry, some 30 million euros (close to N$500 million) were reserved for bilateral domestic green hydrogen pilot projects that are grounded in research.
Mnyupe explained that these projects are intended to commence with infrastructure construction sooner than the anticipated mega green hydrogen project to be erected in the Lüderitz area.
All four successful pilot projects are based in the Erongo region. According to him, this was a strategic decision to kick-start Namibia’s second green hydrogen hub, as planned in the country’s green hydrogen strategy.
“Construction starts this year for some while others will commence next year. The fiscal injection is part of our economic recovery plans coming to bear fruit, and should assist with job creation and knowledge transfer for SMEs,” said Mnyupe.
Dâures agriculture project
The project size is 1.5 GW (current phase 508 kg green ammonia/day) in the Erongo region’s Dâures constituency, with a value of 15.1 million euros. The project is expected to realise the production of green hydrogen and ammonia as well as the utilisation of its derivatives.
This is further expected to lead to the sustainable production of green hydrogen, based on renewable energies, as well as the establishment of a green scheme programme for ammonia nitrate crops, and the storage and transport of green hydrogen, ammonia and related derivatives.
Mnyupe noted that this project will integrate application technologies for the utilisation of green hydrogen in agriculture, ammonia nitrate and cleaning detergents and also fuel cell-operated centre pivots, boreholes and houses.
This project will be located at the port of Walvis Bay, with a value of 5.66 million euros. According to Mnyupe, the strategic targets of the project are to convert an existing tugboat and port equipment to operate on hydrogen dual fuel technology.
Furthermore, this project intends to develop green hydrogen bunkering and refuelling infrastructure at the port, and aims to develop safety and operation procedures for use of hydrogen at ports. The overall objective of this project is to elevate the German-Namibian partnership while covering the entire value chain for green hydrogen, and to promote proposed technological solutions.
Cleanergy H2 refuelling station
This project phase value stands at 25 million euros, and is situated in Walvis Bay. The plant consists of a 5MW photovoltaic solar system, a 5MW electrolyser and a hydrogen-refuelling station. The purpose of the plant is to test technologies, to develop off-take applications within the transport and mining sectors and port activities, and to facilitate technology transfer and skills development into Namibia.
Mnyupe added that building upon the lessons learned with the pilot plant, a second phase with a bigger commercial plant, including ammonia production, is planned.
H2-Diesel Dual Fuel Locomotives
Meanwhile, TransNamib will embark on a pilot programme valued at 7.63 million euros. To achieve this project’s goal, there will be major components developed.
Mnyupe detailed that there will be one locomotive converted for the use of hydrogen as fuel through a repowering of the locomotive with a new hydrogen-ready rail engine.
Measuring the socio-economic impact of green hydrogen in Namibia, associate at Monasa Advisory and Associates Klaus Schade said the faster Namibia can expand the value chain and also use green hydrogen, not only to decarbonise the economy but to attract new industries, it would be the needed multiplier for such development.
“The more we can capture the value chain, the more the multiplier and more employment can be created,” he urged.
The well-attended two-day conference was officially opened by the CEO of the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board, Nangula Uaandja. She said the conference aims to bring together key role-players in Namibia’s green hydrogen ecosystem to exchange views on the potential, opportunities and risks of establishing a green hydrogen industry in the country.
The conference is hosted by the Economic Association of Namibia (EAN), in collaboration with the NIPDB, with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.
According to the experts, Namibia’s world-class solar and wind resources give it a long-term competitive advantage in producing green hydrogen and green ammonia. In this respect, Namibia identified green hydrogen as a possible new engine of growth for the domestic economy.
During a panel discussion yesterday, Mnyupe said government saw green hydrogen as a potential spark for economic industrialisation, adding that it has opportunities for other sectors such as transport and agriculture, amongst others. Mnyupe noted that government is well-prepared to create a conducive environment for the private sector to harness opportunities in this sector.
At the same occasion, the vice president of Worley International, Hans Hermes, stated that the global demand for green hydrogen is very high, and is an excellent opportunity for Namibia to develop its own space. He, therefore, posited that Namibia should not be afraid that the end-product will not find the end- consumer, and advised the country to select the best parts in the value chain to be involved in as a domestic economy.
Worley is an Australian company which operates in almost 50 countries. They focus on implementing low-carbon projects globally, and have been working with a large number of investors on a variety of projects. Worley is also working with the NIPDB as a knowledge partner to support green hydrogen projects.
“All these projects work where there is consensus to grow in a secured investment environment. There should be a stable environment where expectations are set clear, and there should be open discussion between government and investors,” advised Hermes.
For his part, Sylvester Mbangu from the National Planning Commission said green hydrogen will help Namibia to address poverty, inequality and growth. “We hope the growth we get from this product will be inclusive enough to create employment for the vast majority of Namibians, and not the few.”