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Tunisia signs $6.5bn green hydrogen investment deal

The fish market in Sousse, Tunisia. The country hopes the first phase of its H2V deal will produce 5,000MW of renewable energy Alamy via Reuters
The fish market in Sousse, Tunisia. The country hopes the first phase of its H2V deal will produce 5,000MW of renewable energy
  • MoU with TotalEnergies and Verbund
  • Renewable energy target of 25GW
  • Hydrogen will be piped to Europe

Tunisia has signed a memorandum of understanding with French company TotalEnergies and Austrian group Verbund to produce green hydrogen (H2V).

The first phase of the project, which is expected to cost €6 billion ($6.5 billion), aims to produce 200,000 tonnes of H2V per year, generating 5,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy and 2,000MW of electrolysis energy.

A potential investment of €40 billion could help production capacity reach 1 million tonnes per year by 2050, creating 25 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy.

Green hydrogen will be exported to Europe by pipeline.

Tunisia’s Industry, Mines and Energy Ministry wants to produce 8.3 million tonnes of H2V by 2050 and create 430,000 jobs.

Wael Chouchane, secretary of state to the minister of industry, mines and energy, said additional financing could be sought from international investors.

Technical studies for the project, which are estimated to cost tens of millions of euros, are to be launched, although Chouchane said a site for H2V production had already been identified pending government approval.

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.

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 to shift to an expected 43 percent of capital expenditure spent on hydrogen, 38 percent on renewables, and 17 percent on power transmission, distribution and minigrids.

UAE renewable energy company Amea Power said in December it was ready to develop projects worth $15 billion in Africa amid efforts to ramp up production of green hydrogen.

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

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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