Opinion – Green hydrogen key to Namibia’s economic development

The green hydrogen economy is challenging today, primarily because the underlying costs, skills, knowledge, and availability of renewable energy sources vary widely.

It has been estimated that the demand for hydrogen by 2050 could range from 150 to 500 million metric tons per year, depending on global climate ambitions and the development of sectoral activities, energy efficiency measures, the direct electrification and the use of carbon capture technologies.

The most significant development from COP26 was that countries agreed to focus on the Paris Agreement’s tougher aspirational 1.5C target, acknowledging that the 2C target would allow for massive devastation.

Research since the signing of the Paris Agreement has shown that a temperature increase of 2°C above pre-industrial levels would lead to changes in the climate system that would, in many cases, be catastrophic, and some of them would be irreversible. a target of 1.5°C is vital for progress.

Thus, at COP27, the focus will be much more on climate finance, adaptation and loss and damage, issues of vital importance for developing countries.

That still leaves a lot to do at Cop27, and the signs are not good so far. Only 24 countries updated their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) between COP26 and COP27. The energy crisis and the economic setbacks of the past year could even make COP27 a turning point towards clean, low-carbon energy.

In addition, it is vital that Namibia’s transmission infrastructure is strengthened and strengthened, as the country seeks new renewable energy technologies and these are added to the mix, and NamPower undertakes its unbundling.

Namibia has a range of supporting and enabling policies that can help pave the way for a green hydrogen economy. Namibia is on track to develop a green and blue economy, as stated in national documents such as the NDPs and the HPP2.

For Namibia, climate change is as much an economic issue as it is an environmental or existential one. A key consideration for policy makers is what a circular economy looks like for Namibia. As the country prepares for a low-carbon future, it must pool adequate investments in renewable energy, to expand universal access to clean electricity to avert climate disasters.

In early November 2022, Namibia launched the Green Hydrogen Council as well as the Green Hydrogen Strategy, which supports the country’s commitment to the Paris Agreement on climate change, with the ultimate goal of reducing emissions to zero. net by 2050. It’s a good decision. .

Financing the hydrogen revolution

Namibia is securing 540 million euros ($544 million) in climate finance from the Dutch government and European investment at the just-concluded COP27. COP27 is an opportunity for African leaders to voice their unique needs in the face of the climate crisis. This new fund is built on the principles of an innovative blended finance platform to facilitate and accelerate the development of a green hydrogen sector and economy in Namibia. The Dutch grant comes from the Invest International infrastructure finance vehicle, while the European Investment Bank facility will be used to build green hydrogen and renewable energy projects in Namibia.

According to Andrew Johnstone, CEO of the Climate Fund managers: “We are on the verge of losing the battle against climate change. We believe that green hydrogen is the path to energy transition and the solution”.

Namibia has world-class conditions for generating renewable electricity through solar and wind power, which are key factors in reducing the cost of producing green hydrogen. To exploit and benefit from this potential, the Namibian government has great ambitions both for the construction of large-scale solar and wind farms and for the production of green energy carriers and raw materials.

Therefore, the Namibian government has tasked the managers of the Climate Fund and Invest International to set up a dedicated fund to channel all renewable hydrogen financing to Namibia on behalf of the government.

Additionally, Joost Oorthuizen, CEO of Invest International, said, “With this fund, we want to empower the Namibian government to take control of this unique opportunity. It will help the government in its key role to make strategic decisions to invest in projects that strengthen the local green transition. It thus contributes to the development of the country in terms of economic growth, job creation and local use of green hydrogen”.

His Excellency, Dr Hage Gottfried Geingob, President of the Republic of Namibia, thanks you for promoting our country. You have addressed the impending crisis of climate change and the degradation of our environment.

You are a great man with the integrity, values ​​and abilities our country needs. My fellow citizens, there are many 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 get even better.

It is clear that there is an ideological and political impetus to make hydrogen a key component of the energy mix as part of the movement towards a carbon neutral environment.

Moreover, we must recognize what is already achieved in our country and adopt a pragmatic and realistic vision of what can be achieved in the short, medium and long term. The road to a green hydrogen economy will not be easy, as future demand and market structure remain uncertain. Achieving net zero emissions will require significant investments in current and new clean technologies, and away from fossil fuels.

In this context, to realize and benefit from the true potential of hydrogen locally, policy support mechanisms are essential for the penetration of green hydrogen in multiple sectors and encourage sectoral coupling. I see green hydrogen as the path to complete decarburization in a reliable way.

Importantly, green hydrogen can create more space for renewable energy by driving electrolysis with energy that would otherwise be reduced. I am convinced that a green economy can only be achieved through the commitment and actions of multiple sectors and stakeholders in society, including government, businesses and individuals.

Decisions made 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 series 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.

In conclusion, with the right support and investments, Namibia will, over time, succeed in its energy transition. A new path of economic development is urgently needed.

Thus, the transition to a green economy will require the adoption of a new economic model and another approach to development, with the reconfiguration of investments. Improved governance with strong policy signals and regulatory drivers reinforces the need for the economic system. It is evident that Namibian policy makers need to support a much higher allocation of renewable energy generation development.

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

*The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author alone and are in no way linked to his employer or its affiliates.

2022-11-17 Josef Kefas Sheehama

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