In co-operation with German investors, Namibia has commissioned sub-saharan Africa’s largest green hydrogen production project, reports news agency Clean Energy Wire.

The Namibian government has approved entry into the 10 billion dollar project with Hyphen Hydrogen Energy, whose shareholders are renewable power developer Enertrag and infrastructure developer Nicholas. The plan is to build wind farms and photovoltaic plants with a total capacity of 7 GW to produce green ammonia, a hydrogen energy carrier that can be transported more easily and safely.

“The total project capital investment of 10 billion dollars is roughly equivalent to the country’s annual GDP,” Hyphen said. “At full scale development, anticipated [to be] before the end of the decade, the project will produce 2 million tonnes of green ammonia annually for regional and global markets.”

The Namibian government and Hyphen said they are confident that the feasibility and implementation agreement will be signed later this week. EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen commented that the former German colony in southern Africa had the potential to become one of the main renewable energy hubs on the African continent, and even worldwide. Namibia’s president Hage Geingob said the agreement kickstarted a “process that has the potential to transform the lives of many in our country, the region and indeed the world.” Hyphen said the project will create up to 15 000 new jobs during the construction phase, and 3 000 permanent jobs during its operation.

However some experts have cast doubt on the prospects for green ammonia as an energy transporter, suggesting it cannot be shipped in significant quantities to be reconverted to green hydrogen because of the associated inefficiencies and costs. They argue that only hydrogen imports via pipeline will make economic sense, and that traded green ammonia will mainly be used to make fertiliser. Analysts told news agency Reuters that it remains to be seen whether water-scarce Namibia – which is relatively far away from key export markets – will be able to deliver a cost competitive product in an emerging global hydrogen sector.

Image courtesy of Hyphen Hydrogen Energy