More green hydrogen projects on the way

Niël Terblanché

HYDROGEN fuel cell technology, which generates electricity to power most modes of transportation, is gaining traction, and Namibia, with its abundance of sunshine, is ideally positioned to promote the creation of green hydrogen required for exportation.

Work is being done to identify cost-effective ways to use solar or wind energy to create hydrogen via electrolysis. Because the minerals in salty seawater conduct electricity generated by solar or wind energy far better than fresh water, it is perfect for electrolysis.

Cleanergy Solutions Namibia intends to become Namibia’s first company to manufacture commercial-grade hydrogen from water using renewable energy sources after asking for land near Walvis Bay.

The project includes a solar photovoltaic plant with a tracking system, battery storage, and a processing plant.

Cleanergy is a joint venture between Namibia’s Ohlthaver & List Group and CMB.TECH from Belgium.

SRK Consulting, a South African venture, has conducted the environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the proposed pilot site, paving the way for construction to begin in March this year.

Dr Laetitia Coetser, partner and principal scientist at SRK Consulting, agreed that Namibia was one of the countries with the greatest potential for large-scale, commercial production of green hydrogen.

“Although some of the technologies to be utilised are new, there is already a well-established solar plant design and construction industry within the country. The EIA, as well as a public participation process, was undertaken in support of the environmental clearance certificate issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism,” Dr Coetser said.

SRK compiled an environmental management plan (EMP) for the client to effectively manage and mitigate the impacts of the proposed development. The mitigation measures include design and management practices to prevent and minimise impacts on the social, cultural, and environmental aspects.

“The mitigation and monitoring will be implemented during the planning, construction and operation phases of the project. Most of the impacts are anticipated during construction when bulk groundwork would be conducted,” she said.

Dr Coetser stated that the EIA had considered a wide range of environmental impacts including groundwater, surface water, archaeology, air quality, flora, fauna, and noise.

“We also considered climate change in terms of greenhouse gas emissions during both the construction stage and the operating of the demonstration plant,” she said.

Waste management is also an important element of an EIA, relating to the separation, storage, and disposal of waste. The programmes and plans outlined in the EIA are subject to monitoring to assess the effectiveness of implementation; this includes routine monitoring against set standards or performance criteria, and periodic review or evaluation.

“It is anticipated that green hydrogen projects like this will further enhance existing skill sets in Namibia, as entirely new job markets will open up within the country,” she said. “This will contribute towards efforts to diversify the economy, and could substantially add to the overall gross domestic product.”

As green hydrogen gains more interest as an important contributor to a lower carbon future, project developers are viewing Namibia as an ideal venue for such projects.

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