The continent’s natural resources could help it take advantage of an untapped market worth $1 trillion and see it become a major player in the global energy market says a new report
AFRICAN GOVERNMENTS are being urged to use the continent’s abundant solar energy resources to produce clean hydrogen and transform the economy.
According to a new report by the European Investment Bank (EIB), Africa has vast potential to become a climate-resilient and low-carbon continent, with prospects for attracting international investment in areas such as climate-resilient infrastructure, and climate-smart agriculture.
The EIB research estimates that clean or green hydrogen, an energy source produced from a variety of renewable sources including solar and wind which only emit water vapour and leave no residue in the air, unlike coal and oil, is a $1 trillion untapped market that could help the continent become a global energy player, drastically cut emissions and decarbonize heavy industries and transport (including shipping).
Clean or green hydrogen, an energy source produced from a variety of renewable sources such as solar or wind power and which only emit water vapour, leaving no residue in the air unlike coal or oil, is estimated by the EIB to be a $1 trillion untapped market that could help the continent become a global energy player.
The report, called Africa’s Extraordinary Green Hydrogen Potential, and produced in collaboration with the International Solar Alliance and the African Union, said that investments in green hydrogen, have the potential to reduce carbon emissions in Africa by 40%, or 500 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
In addition to having access to clean and sustainable energy, the report also found that Africa has the potential to become a global green hydrogen powerhouse by supplying 25 million tonnes of clean energy to global energy markets, which is the equivalent to 15 percent of the gas currently used in the European Union.
Climate change has a disproportionate impact on Africa, despite the fact that it ranks last among continents for producing CO2 emissions.
Experts have said that although it has only 15 per cent of the world’s population Africa may end up footing the bill for nearly half of the estimated global adaptation costs due to climate change.
They warn that these costs will reduce much-needed spending on areas such as healthcare, infrastructure, and farming.
According to EIB, this scenario could be avoided if Africa could produce at least 50 million tonnes of green hydrogen per year through the use of its abundant solar energy resources by 2035.
The report said that green hydrogen has the potential to generate new jobs, mitigate the effects of climate change and help secure global energy supplies which would help countries around the world become more resilient to energy shortages.
Speaking about the report Abdessalam Ould Mohamed Salah, Mauritania’s Minister of Energy said: “Africa’s 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.”
Several ambitious green hydrogen projects are currently underway in Mauritania, Egypt, and South Africa.
By 2035, Egypt hopes to have generated 42% of its energy from renewables. Green hydrogen is expected to add $10–$18 billion to the country’s GDP by 2025, according to government ministers there. In addition to Kenya, Morocco, and Nigeria are all at various stages of plans to incorporate green hydrogen into their national energy strategies.
Green hydrogen was featured in a number of emissions reduction pledges at COP26, the United Nations Climate Conference. Hydrogen has been recognised as a key component of a net zero economy, where the amount of greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere is balanced by the amount removed.