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AMEA Power plans $15bn hydrogen investment in Africa

President of Djibouti Mr Ismail Omar Guelleh speaking at Cop28 in Dubai. AMEA Power is planning a 1GW electrolyser project in the East African country Cop28/Christophe Viseux
President of Djibouti Mr Ismail Omar Guelleh speaking at Cop28 in Dubai. AMEA Power is planning a 1GW electrolyser project in the East African country
  • Trio of electrolyser projects
  • Mauritania, Djibouti and Egypt
  • Hydrogen production by 2028

UAE renewable energy company AMEA Power is ready to develop projects worth $15 billion in Africa as it ramps up production of green hydrogen.

The company, which has a clean energy pipeline of over 6 gigawatt (GW) across 20 countries, plans to develop three 1GW-scale electrolyser projects in Mauritania, Djibouti and Egypt.

“We believe they are very strong candidates for realisation,” Hussein Matar, senior director of business development at AMEA Power, told AGBI in an interview at the Cop28 climate conference in Dubai.

He added that green hydrogen could be produced at the respective sites by 2028.

Electrolysers are considered a critical technology for the production of low-emission hydrogen from renewable or nuclear electricity.

AMEA Power, which is a climate sponsor at Cop28, signed two deals to develop a 100-megawatt (MW) wind farm and 100MW solar photovoltaic plant in Mauritania, de-risking the development of the green hydrogen plant. 

The company also secured a 25MW solar-plus-storage power purchase agreement in Djibouti last month.

Green hydrogen is produced on a CO2-free basis through water electrolysis.

“The most important part in a green hydrogen project is electricity and Africa has an abundance of solar and wind,” Matar said. 

“Being in renewables and knowing that renewables represented 65 percent of the cost of hydrogen made us immediately interested in saying, if electrons are the most important part in the production of hydrogen then we’re already two-thirds of the way there.”

Matar revealed that each plant would cost in the region of $5 billion and would include wind turbines, solar panels, battery storage, electrolysers, water desalination, port optimisation, storage tankers and pipelines.

“We’ve taken a conservative number for a fully-fledged turnkey solution,” he said.

AMEA Power has also spent “a few million” dollars on studies to develop a GW-scale electrolyser plant in Egypt’s Ain Sokhna.

“We’re really moving fast on that,” said Matar.

Clean hydrogen can cover a significant portion of global energy transition needs, especially in hard-to-abate sectors and industries such as steel manufacturing, shipping and aviation. 

Several African countries – most notably Egypt, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia and South Africa – are actively pursuing clean hydrogen production. 

These countries formed the collective Africa Green Hydrogen Alliance in May this year to collaborate on capacity creation, financing, certification, and regulatory and policy agendas of green hydrogen development in Africa. 

A McKinsey report projects that by 2050, the annual investment required in energy will more than double to $160 billion, with the focus of investment likely shifting to an expected 43 percent of capital expenditure spent on hydrogen, 38 percent on renewables, and 17 percent on power transmission, distribution and minigrids.

It added that, by 2050, the continent could self-supply its full domestic demand potential of between 10 and 18 megatons of hydrogen, while African hydrogen exports could reach around 40 megatons by 2050.

Mater explained that the hydrogen produced could be turned into ammonia and exported across the world.

Currently up to 80 percent of global ammonia supply is used in fertiliser production, but it has huge potential as a source of clean energy.

The hydrogen rainbow

  • Green hydrogen is produced on a carbon-neutral basis through water electrolysis. 
  • Turquoise hydrogen is created when natural gas is broken down into hydrogen and solid carbon with the help of methane pyrolysis.
  • Blue hydrogen is generated from the steam reduction of natural gas. 
  • Grey hydrogen is obtained by steam reforming fossil fuels such as natural gas or coal. 
  • Sometimes other colours are ascribed to hydrogen, based on how it is produced. For red, pink and violet hydrogen, the electrolysers are driven by nuclear power. 
  • Yellow hydrogen is hydrogen produced from a mixture of renewable energies and fossil fuels. 
  • White hydrogen is a waste product of other chemical processes, while the use of coal as a fuel produces brown hydrogen.

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