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Morocco mulls hydrogen energy deal with Asia’s richest man

Reuters
Adani Enterprises, the flagship firm of Adani Group, is looking to fund capital expenditure and pay off some debt from the proceeds of the share sale
  • Asia’s richest person is reportedly in talks about hydrogen projects
  • Adani wants to be world’s largest clean energy producer by 2030
  • Morocco is attractive for green hydrogen production and export

Morocco is ramping up plans to become a major producer and exporter of green hydrogen, and the investment deals reportedly on the table include with Indian billionaire Gautam Adani. 

Named as Asia’s richest person, Adani is the chairman and founder of Adani Group, a multinational conglomerate with interests spanning the port development, industrial, logistics, and renewables sectors, among others.

Moroccan authorities are currently considering signing final decisions for “at least two” competitive industrial hydrogen projects, and Adani Group is among the firms interested in being involved, Bloomberg reported in an interview with Moroccan energy transition minister Leila Benali this week. 

Gautam Adani has pledged to invest $70 billion in renewables and is on a fundraising spree as he seeks to make this and other business ambitions a reality. 

He raised $2 billion from Abu Dhabi fund International Holding Company this year and told the Financial Times on Wednesday that he expects to secure further investment from sovereign wealth funds across the world. 

Adani has said he wants to make his group the world’s largest producer of clean energy by the end of the decade, by partnering with and maximising the potential of countries in the Middle East and North Africa in particular.

Mena has been identified as attractive for green hydrogen production and export to the world’s biggest markets. 

Morocco, for example – one of Africa’s biggest fossil fuel importers – is attracting interest from investors eager to export green hydrogen to Europe, partly due to its proximity to the region, but also because of its free trade agreement with the European Union.

EU countries and the UK have been on the hunt for alternative sources of energy this year after the Ukraine war dramatically pushed up energy prices. 

UK-based XLinks is working with Morocco on an £18 billion ($20 billion) plan to build solar panel and wind farms in the Moroccan desert that could power more than seven million British homes by 2030. 

The energy would be transported to the UK via a 3,800km cable in Atlantic Ocean.

Another reason Morocco is becoming so attractive to prospective hydrogen investors is because of its own strategy for renewables and green hydrogen to replace its historic coal-fired power generation. 

Last June, Morocco’s Ministry of Energy, Mines and Environment signed a collaboration agreement with the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) to advance the country’s renewable hydrogen economy and increase uptake of renewable energy more broadly. 

The two parties pledged to carry out green hydrogen studies and draw up policies intended to incentivise the private sector to get involved in projects. 

“Morocco has shown great leadership in advancing the deployment of renewable energy to meet growing energy demand while creating new industrial opportunities across the country,” Irena’s director-general Francesco La Camera said at the time.

“It is only natural that this leadership be extended to the pursuit of green hydrogen, which may play a critical role in global decarbonization ambitions.”

The country has revised upwards its renewable energy targets and now aims to generate 52 percent of its energy needs from renewables by 2030. 

Morocco had almost 3.5gw of installed renewable energy capacity as of the end of 2020, Irena said last year.

The country worked with the European Commission to draw up Irena’s Collaborative Framework on Green Hydrogen, published last May. The paper set out recommendations for developing technology, infrastructure, and policies to boost global hydrogen trade. 

Last month, the Moroccan government announced plans to reduce energy costs for factories by 20 to 30 percent through a combined strategy of investing in renewable energy and decarbonisation of industry.

And, just last weekend, Moroccan fertiliser giant OCP announced plans to use green hydrogen to improve its operations, as part of a $13 billion corporate investment programme for the period 2023-2027.