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Opinion - Namibia’s path toward a green hydrogen economy

2021-11-19  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Namibia’s path toward a green hydrogen economy
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The eyes of the world were on Glasgow, Scotland, as the United Nations climate summit, known as COP26, opened, with UN diplomats and politicians alike calling for more action and ambition to set out new commitments for curbing greenhouse emissions and adapting to the impacts of a warming planet.

Namibia has a range of supporting and enabling policies that can help steer the way to a green hydrogen economy. 

The National Renewable Energy Policy vision for Namibia is to become a regional leader in the development and deployment of Renewable Energy within Southern Africa. 

Namibia adopts several objectives and goals as far as this document is concerned. Namibia is on course to develop a green and blue economy as articulated under the national documents such as NDPs and HPP2. 

For Namibia, climate change is as much an economic question as it is an environmental, or existential one. A key consideration for policymakers is what a circular economy looks like for Namibia. 

To produce green hydrogen competitively, our country would need world-class transmission infrastructure, world-class wind and solar resources, access to sustainable sources of clean water sufficient land and a conducive legislative environment. 

The world is moving away from fossil fuels. Namibia, if it doesn’t want to be left behind, must take advantage of its solar and wind resources and invest in a mass rollout of renewable energy.

According to National Planning Commissioner Obeth Kandjoze, Namibia will receive about 40 million Euro financial kitty from Germany to steer research on the possibility of tapping into green hydrogen. 

Government further informs the nation about issuing a notice of award as an intention to appoint HYPHEN Hydrogen Energy as the preferred bidder to develop the country’s first large scale vertically integrated green hydrogen project in Namibia. 

Renewable energy will help provide Namibia with a real opportunity to attract foreign direct investment, create well-paying jobs, diversify and improve its footings of trade. It makes sense for the financial services sector to work towards increasing financing for renewable energy projects.

 Namibia, like the rest of the world, simply has no option but to move towards cleaner forms of power and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The road toward a green hydrogen economy will not be an easy one, as future demand and the structure of the market remain uncertain. 

Reaching net-zero emissions will require significant investment in current and new clean technologies, and away from fossil fuels. 

Against this background, to realise the true potential of hydrogen locally and to capture the benefits, policy support mechanisms are essential for the penetration of green hydrogen into multiple sectors and encourage sector coupling. 

I view green hydrogen as the path forward to full decarburisation, and full decarburisation in a way that is reliable. It is important to note that green hydrogen can create more space for renewables by driving electrolysis with energy that would otherwise be curtailed. 

The hydrogen could then be sold into industries already using it as a fuel or feedstock, including fertilisers, oil refining and some synthetic materials, which would, in turn, make overbuilding renewable energy a more cost-effective strategy. 

I believe that a green economy can only be achieved through the commitment and actions of multiple sectors and stakeholders in society, including government, business and individuals. 

Decisions at these levels have the potential to transform local and regional economies, while having a pronounced impact on how communities and individuals within society live.

In addition, a range of enabling conditions, strategic priorities and policy reforms will be required for the redirection of investments and the reconfiguration of infrastructure to support a green hydrogen economy. 

It is clear that as Namibia transitions to a low carbon energy sector, the benefits of green hydrogen technology to meet these goals appear uncontested. 

The other critical consideration is water availability. With the known shortages of water in Namibia, the requirements of achieving sustainable water resources for communities and the environment would likely be prioritised over the use of such water for green hydrogen production. 

My fellow citizens, there are a lot of things that divide us but one thing that unites us or should unite us is that we want to see our country succeed in a green hydrogen economy. We want it to stay great and become even better.

In conclusion, to date, the world’s economy has been resource-intensive and economic developments have often led to increased poverty and a widening of the gap between the rich and poor. 

The economy has overexploited natural resources and severely undervalued the ecological goods and services that form the basis of all economic activity. A new economic development path is urgently needed. 

The transition to a green economy will require the adoption of a new economic model and a different approach to development, with the reconfiguration of investments. 

It is evident that Namibian policymakers need to support a far higher allocation of renewable energy power generation development. 

Continued investment by both government and the private sector will have a significant positive impact on Namibia’s green hydrogen energy future, provided that the water is allocated and used responsibly, and the relevant policy and regulatory framework is created to support this technology.

2021-11-19  Staff Reporter

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