“Namibia must take its rightful place as Africa’s clean energy hub!” The chairman of the Namibian government body for green hydrogen, Obeth Kandjoze, opened the ceremony to sign the feasibility and implementation agreement with the company Hyphen Hydrogen Energy, a joint venture with German participation. Within two years, it should now be finally clarified whether and how the planned mammoth project in southern Namibia can be implemented.
Before the end of the decade, two million tons of ammonia are to be produced annually in Tsau-ǁKhaeb National Park and shipped from there all over the world. Hyphen hopes to start production as early as 2028. Two concessions, each 2000 square kilometers in size, are planned for this in the national park. Another 14,000 square kilometers are to be advertised in the future.
Expensive superlatives for Namibia
But the superlatives go even further. Hyphen says it needs around 7,000 megawatts of electricity to obtain the energy required to split water into oxygen and hydrogen and to process it further into ammonia. For comparison: The current maximum consumption in Namibia is just over 600 megawatts. Added to this is a new desalination plant, kilometers of pipelines and, last but not least, a completely new port in Lüderitz.
Nevertheless, the CEO of the German stock corporation ENERTRAG, Gunar Hering, is optimistic. The company is a shareholder in Hyphen Hydrogen Energy together with Nicholas Holdings of the UK. In the DW interview, Hering explains: “From the full range of studies that have been done so far in the concept study, we are very confident that this project not only makes a lot of sense from a climate point of view, but that it also makes commercial sense as a private sector project .”
Government in Windhoek confident
The Namibian government’s special hydrogen representative, James Mnyupe, shares this view: “We know that this special project could bring in almost 20 percent of the state’s current tax revenue,” Mnyupe told DW. The Namibian government should benefit primarily from taxes, license fees and the leasing of the required areas in the national park. She also has the option of becoming a 24 percent shareholder in the project. An opportunity that Mnyupe says she will take. For him it is not a question of “if” but of “when”.
Especially since the costs would still be kept within limits with a total volume of 90 million euros in the development stage. “To be honest, we’ve already mobilized grant funds that can cover the entire 24 percent of the 90 million,” Mnyupe told DW.
The energy flows abroad
The government now has a total of six months to become a shareholder. Should the project come to a financing conclusion, however, the costs for Namibia would increase drastically again. The total costs for the hydrogen plant in the south of the country are currently estimated at ten billion US dollars. This corresponds almost to Namibia’s annual gross domestic product. According to Mnyupe, the government will then have to decide whether to keep all the shares or to use the money elsewhere to develop the necessary infrastructure or other projects.
For example on the use of green hydrogen and ammonia in Namibia. Because of the targeted two million tons of ammonia, nothing remains in the country for the time being. Hyphen has already signed letters of intent to purchase the raw material with German utility RWE, South Korean hydrogen company Approtium and an unnamed European chemical group.
Hydrogen: “Namibia is a pioneer”
After all, the majority of the workforce is supposed to come from Namibia. A promise that has silenced even some of the project’s loudest critics. The chairman of the regional council of the ǁKharas region in Namibia, Joseph Isaacks, complained to DW last year that regional politicians were not involved in the development of the project and spoke of a breach of the constitution. After an invitation to sign the feasibility agreement, he praised Namibia’s President Hage Geingob for his vision and described the planned hydrogen industry in Namibia as his “legacy”.
A nice souvenir photo for Namibia’s President Hage Geingob: the signing of the contract falls in his last years in office
In order to realize this legacy, the necessary environmental and feasibility studies are to be carried out over the next two years. With this, Namibia could set new global standards, as the chairman of the Namibian government body for green hydrogen, Obeth Kandjoze, emphasized: “Namibia is a pioneer in shaping this industry.”