Africa’s first green hydrogen power plant will begin to generate electricity in 2024. The plant is based in Namibia and is being built by a French independent power producer HDF Energy.
The director of HDF Energy for Southern Africa, Nicolas Lecomte, recently stated that "We can produce 142 gigawatt hours annually, enough for 142 000 inhabitants". The project will go a long way towards helping to solve energy poverty in the country.
Hydrogen is considered "green" when it is produced using renewable energy and is important for decarbonizing industry, even if the technology is still in its infancy and is still somewhat expensive. In the project, electrolysers will be powered by 85 MW of solar panels to produce hydrogen that can be stored.
The project will cost a total of $182 million to be completed and is expected to increase the Southern African country’s access to clean energy year-round, 24 hours a day. HDF Energy is interested in developing additional projects in Africa and other continents. Lecomte stated that "soon after Southern Africa, you will see HDF launching projects in East Africa."
The project has been welcomed by many Namibians who have been experiencing a lot of load shading in recent years. Currently, Namibia imports over a third of its electricity from its neighbor, South Africa. However, South Africa can no longer guarantee exporting energy to other countries because of its own challenges. The Southern African country is experiencing its most severe energy crisis in decades and Eskom, the national distributor, has increased load shading throughout the country in recent months. Recently, South Africa signed a deal with Zambia to import electricity from the latter.
In addition, Namibia also wants to increase its solar and wind energy generation. The country is one of the sunniest in Africa, with huge potential for solar energy. The Southern African country is also one of the world's least populous, making it far easier to meet its citizens' energy needs.
Namibia aims to become the hub for Africa’s renewable energy. Although many analysts have acknowledged the importance of green energy in solving energy poverty on a small scale, many are still skeptical about its ability to power the country’s development. They argue that no country in the world has been able to develop on a large scale using renewable sources such as solar and wind.
In an effort to lessen its reliance on fossil fuels, the European Union also aims to sign a contract with Namibia to help the nation's developing green hydrogen industry. Namibia is also one of the African countries that is set to benefit from a $100 billion annual pledge made by wealthy countries to assist developing countries to switch to more environmentally friendly energy sources. However, the pledge has so far not been kept.
In addition, a second company, Hyphen Hydrogen Energy, is in negotiations with the Namibian government to secure an implementation agreement for its intended $10 billion green hydrogen project, which will generate about 350,000 tonnes of green hydrogen annually by 2030. The company aims to produce hydrogen for international and regional markets.
More projects like these are required in Africa, which is one of the regions with the highest energy poverty in the world. Currently, very few countries are energy secure in Africa. Zambia and Kenya are some of the few countries with an energy surplus.