Harnessing Africa’s solar energy to produce 50 million tons of green hydrogen a year by 2035 can help secure the global energy supply, create jobs, decarbonize heavy industry, enhance global competitiveness and transform access to clean water and sustainable energy. The analysis has been commissioned by the European Investment Bank, the International Solar Alliance, and the African Union, with the support of the Government of Mauritania, HyDeal, and UCLG Africa.
The “Africa’s Extraordinary Green Hydrogen Potential” report represents the first detailed research on the feasible development of green hydrogen across the continent. The new study combines an analysis of investment opportunities focusing on three hubs: Mauritania – Morocco, southern Africa, and Egypt with a roadmap of technical, economic, environmental, and financial solutions to unlock commercial development.
“Africa has the best solar energy in the world and transforming solar power into green hydrogen can strengthen energy security, cut emissions and pollution and decarbonize industry and transport. The European Investment Bank is working with partners across Africa and around the world to harness its renewable energy potential to produce low-cost green hydrogen at scale. Africa’s Extraordinary Green Hydrogen Potential report shows concrete opportunities to transform access to green energy and clean water across the continent and beyond.” said Abdessalam Ould Mohamed Salah, Minister of Energy of the Republic of Mauritania.
“Africa has the best renewable energy in the world and scaling up production of green hydrogen can transform access to low-cost electricity and clean water. Unlocking Africa’s green hydrogen potential will require close cooperation between public, private, and financial partners. The new “Africa’s Extraordinary Green Hydrogen Potential” study outlines what can be achieved and what needs to be done. The European Investment Bank is pleased to work with African and international partners to enable large-scale green hydrogen to become a reality.” said Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank.
“Solar photovoltaic technology has provided us with the cheapest electricity. It will cost below €2 per kg in several African countries by 2030, much lower than the current mass assumption of €5 and a stark contrast to the $60-70 paid for an oil barrel. Thanks to this low-cost electricity and decreasing electrolyzer costs, the next step is providing access to a clean fuel, cheaper than all the current fossil fuels. It will enable us to decarbonize the power sector and most hard-to-abate sectors – fertilizers, steel manufacturing, and refineries.” said Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, of International Solar Alliance.
“As the global energy and climate crises unfold, mass-scale competitive green hydrogen is ready to provide energy security, affordability, and decarbonization. Integrated hydrogen hubs bringing together upstream, midstream, and upstream players on the basis of long-term off-take contracts are building powerful business models. Pioneering African countries such as Mauritania are showing the way, proving that Africa can help the world with green hydrogen – ensuring for itself a future of industrial development, fast and clean growth for all” says Thierry Lepercq, President of HyDeal.
The study was previewed at the Mauritania Pavilion at COP 27 in Sharm el Sheikh by Abdessalam Ould Mohamed Salah, Minister of Energy of the Republic of Mauritania, Ambroise Fayolle, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Dr. Ajay Mathur, Director General, International Solar Alliance, Jean-Pierre Elong Mbassi, Secretary General of UCLG Africa and Hakima el Haité former Minister of Environment of Morocco and Thierry Lepercq, President of HyDeal. Government leaders, ministers, international finance, business partners, and civil society from across Africa attended the unveiling event.
Scaling up green hydrogen production to transform access to low-cost energy
The comprehensive analysis carried out in recent weeks by international consultancy CVA suggests that large-scale green hydrogen investment can accelerate decarbonization by enabling large-scale African energy users, such as fertilizer and steel producers, to use green hydrogen. The research is enhanced by CVA’s unique strategic partnership with energy partners across Africa, Europe, and around the world.
The study highlights that solar powers green hydrogen is economically viable and can be produced at less than EUR 2 per kilogram, cheaper than traditional fossil fuel energy, and cater both to local energy demand and allow green hydrogen to be exported to global markets. This is equivalent to energy costs of USD 60 a barrel.
Roadmap for green hydrogen commercialization across Africa
The research suggests three requirements to enable 50 million tons of green hydrogen to be produced in Africa by 2035:
- National planning, regulation, and incentive schemes need to mobilise private sector investment.
- Pilot projects need to show successful green hydrogen generation, storage, distribution, and use at both demonstration and commercial scales.
- Market-based partnerships are needed to enable mass-scale domestic and international off-take and demand for green hydrogen and increase cooperation to design, finance, build and operate green hydrogen production, storage and distribution infrastructure.
EUR 1 trillion green hydrogen investment can deliver the equivalent of more than one-third of Africa’s current energy consumption, boost GDP, improve clean water supply, and empower communities.
The new study outlines how production and transmission of green hydrogen can lead to a EUR 1-trillion investment yielding 7 exajoules of energy (versus consumption in Africa of 19.9 exajoules in 2021) and a correlative massive increase in GDP, creating hundreds of thousands of permanent and skilled jobs across Africa.
Large-scale green hydrogen investment will transform the supply of clean water in areas regularly impacted by drought and chronic water shortages and will help empower communities.
Decarbonising Africa’s heavy industry
The new analysis estimates that green hydrogen investment could reduce carbon emissions in Africa by 40%, replacing 500 million tons of CO2 a year.
Enabling Africa to be a global green hydrogen powerhouse
According to the study, large-scale green hydrogen generation will enable Africa to supply 25 million tons of green hydrogen to global energy markets, equivalent to 15% of current gas used in the European Union.
The new analysis will be followed by in-depth research of local green hydrogen investment potential, regulatory requirements, and changing demand in the coming months.