West Africa can become the climate-friendly energy powerhouse of the world

Pk: Aufbau einer Wasserstoffpartnerschaft mit Westafrika - Neue Wege für Klimaschutz und wirtschaftliche Entwicklung
© BMBF/Hans-Joachim Rickel

Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek presented the Atlas of Green Hydrogen Generation Potentials in Africa together with the Innovation Commissioner for Green Hydrogen, Dr Stefan Kaufmann, today. It analyses the potential for the generation and export of green hydrogen in West and Southern Africa.

Germany’s Federal Research Minister Anja Karliczek explained:

“If we want to leave a liveable planet to our children and grandchildren, we must create a new basis for our energy supply. Green hydrogen, which is produced with the help of renewable sources, is a key technology in this.

“Many African countries have excellent conditions for the production of green hydrogen. We want to cooperate with them on this. This is why we have launched the Atlas of Green Hydrogen Generation Potentials in Africa to identify which countries are best suited for its production.

“It has produced striking results: West Africa has generating potential of up to 165,000 terawatt-hours of green hydrogen per year. That is roughly 1,500 times what the National Hydrogen Strategy assumes will be Germany’s demand for hydrogen in 2030. Or to put it another way: This energy is already enough today to cover Germany’s electricity demand 300 times over!

“Green hydrogen offers a real chance to launch a development in Africa which is driven by the African countries themselves. The region can become the world’s energy powerhouse – thanks to green hydrogen. What I would like to emphasize is that we want to import energy from Africa only when local demand is covered.

“A partnership between Africa and Germany is therefore a win-win situation: It means Africa can supply itself with energy while also profiting from the export of hydrogen. Meanwhile, Germany covers its own demand for green hydrogen while also profiting economically from technology exports.”

Stefan Kaufmann, Innovation Commissioner for Green Hydrogen and Member of the Bundestag, added:

“We are thinking of hydrogen in big, green and global terms, with everything that entails. That is why we want to start the first pilot projects in Africa before the end of this year. In doing so, we are ensuring that companies and investors are involved right from the start. We will be holding an industry workshop in Germany already in June. The plan is also to hold a green hydrogen summit in Togo this year.

“We will also train expert staff on the ground. For this purpose, we have launched a graduate studies programme together with WASCAL – the West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use to train the scientists of tomorrow. The scholarship programme has met with a huge response. Initially, three intakes of students are planned and the first of these will start this year.

“The atlas of potential shows that the upscaling of green hydrogen offers West Africa huge opportunities to build a sustainable energy system and new economic value chains. We want to jointly exploit these opportunities for technological progress. Our goal is to make the cooperation with our African partner countries a real win-win situation for everyone involved. In my many conversations I can sense a great desire to actively shape developments and the feeling of being on the cusp of a major transformation. We aim to harness this energy to shape developments in the coming months and years.”

Dr Moumini Savadogo, Executive Director of WASCAL in Ghana, added:

“The Africa potential atlas is just one example of our strong cooperation with Germany, summarized for us under "Go green Go Africa". We want to establish a hydrogen partnership and strategic measures – through a consistent scientific approach, starting with the atlas for green hydrogen production potentials. It paves the way for sound investments in a climate-safe and green economy. This is complemented by ongoing analysis for effective policy, regulatory and institutional frameworks through close collaboration with the ECOWAS Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (ECREEE).

“Thanks to the partnership with the BMBF and the German partner institutions, the new scholarship programme for the international master's degree in energy and green hydrogen technology has now been launched for students from all ECOWAS countries. The response has been overwhelming.

“I am convinced that together with Germany we still have a long way to go in the development of a sustainable green hydrogen economy, but thanks to our long-standing partnership and the great mutual trust we have, we will manage this too. Once again, I would like to sincerely thank all our supporters and look forward to many more exciting activities.”

Background:

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is providing around €5.7 million in funding for the collaborative project “H2 Atlas-Africa: Atlas of Green Hydrogen Generation Potentials in Africa” from 2020 to 2022. The feasibility study pursues two objectives. Firstly, it sets out to identify suitable locations for the production of green hydrogen. The second aim is to test the production, transport and processing of green hydrogen in Africa.

The hydrogen potential atlas will identify suitable regions for the development of green hydrogen technologies for German and African investors.

The initial results for the 15 ECOWAS countries show that three quarters of the land area of West Africa is suitable for wind turbines. The costs of producing electricity in this way are only about half what they are in Germany. In addition, about a third of the land area is suitable for the viable operation of solar photovoltaic plants. With this large supply of wind and solar energy, West Africa could produce up to 165,000 TWh of green hydrogen per year. The atlas shows that it would already be possible today to produce 120,000 of these 165,000 TWh at a rate of less than €2.50. By comparison: In Germany, green hydrogen currently costs around €7 to €10 per kilogram.

In calculating the generating potential, the feasibility study factors in the careful and sustainable management of resources. The calculations concerning water availability therefore relate to amounts that will not be needed to cover current and future local demand. About 20 percent of the production potential can still be exploited without the use of seawater desalination. However, desalination would only marginally increase the cost of producing green hydrogen in West Africa.

The first variables of the hydrogen potential atlas for West Africa can be viewed in an interactive map at h2atlas.de. Further data is expected to follow in June 2021, including the costs of seawater desalination, exporting hydrogen and the transport of energy and water. The analysis of the data collected in southern Africa will also be available.

A master’s degree programme in green hydrogen technologies will start in September 2021 to train scientific specialists in Africa. The programme involves Forschungszentrum Jülich, RWTH Aachen University and WASCAL. Students from all 15 countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are eligible to apply. Some 180 students will be admitted to the first three rounds of the programme. The programme will be conducted at four universities in Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, Senegal and Togo, with one semester of the master's programme taking place in Germany as a foreign practical semester. The first round attracted 842 applications for 60 places.